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Captain ‘First’ In Little Brown Jug

by Frank Carulli

September 28, 2020

The ‘Captain’ came calling at the right time to be first in line in harness racing’s 3-year-old pacing division.

Captain Barbossa won for the first time in 13 starts this year in Thursday’s $335,400 Little Brown Jug final, giving trainer Tony Alagna and driver Joe Bongiorno their first win in the Pacing Triple Crown race at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio.

“He’s been a really hard-luck horse this year,” Alagna said. “He’s drawn a lot of bad posts … and he finally gets his due.”

He finished second in his last three starts, including the Jug elimination heat. But he left little doubt in the Jug final, finishing one-fifth of a second off the world record for sophomore pacers on a half-mile track in 1:49.1. He brushed past elimination winner Sandbetweenmytoes (Scott Zeron) after a steady, third-quarter advance, then held off late-running Cattlewash (David Miller) for a 1-1/2-length victory. Catch The Fire (Mike Wilder), the even-money favorite off his win in the other elimination, finished third.

Bongiorno was extremely confident heading into the Jug because “my horse had the most pace finishing in the second elimination.”

Captain Barbossa more than doubled his lifetime earnings to $414,288 for owners Robert LeBlanc, David Anderson, and the partnership of Alagna, Martha Frank, John Fodera, and Steven Wienick.

Venerate Trots To Mohawk Million Win

Venerate negotiated a second-tier starting spot and rallied past undefeated favorite Donna Soprano to win the inaugural Mohawk Million for 2-year-old trotters Saturday at Woodbine-Mohawk Park.

The race shaped up perfectly for the 2-1 second choice and driver Andrew McCarthy.  Altar (Jody Jameison) emerged from a four-way battle to lead after an opening quarter mile in :27 but yielded to half-mile leader On A Streak (Scott Young). Insta Glam (Yannick Gingras) brushed strongly to the front entering the final turn at the 7/8-mile oval but had to brace for the oncoming favorites.

Donna Soprano (Bob McClure), out and moving near the half, loomed boldly for the stretch drive, but Venerate followed a couple lengths farther back. Donna Soprano, the 4-to-5 favorite and perfect in five starts, led in mid-stretch, but Venerate surged past for a ¾-length victory in 1:53.2. He paid $6.80 to win.

“The speed was pretty tough early, so it worked out where I could end up getting a pretty good trip, but when I looked up at the eighth pole I was a long way back,” said McCarthy.

Julie Miller trains Venerate for Pinske Stables and the Andy Miller Stable.