Delaware has rich history in Little Brown Jug race

Adios Harry, with Morris MacDonald in the bike, wins his second heat for the Little Brown Jug with an easy effort. Second is Meadow Pace (Joe O’Brien). (Submitted photo)

Adios Harry, with Morris MacDonald in the bike, wins his second heat for the Little Brown Jug with an easy effort. Second is Meadow Pace (Joe O’Brien). (Submitted photo)

DELAWARE, Ohio — Today’s Little Brown Jug race is named for a great race horse of many years ago.

Little Brown Jug was first a farm horse and later a race horse of great renown.

As a farm horse, he was used for plowing and other strenuous duties in a farming operation. By having to perform in that manner, he developed a strong body.

Later in life he was purchased by a gentleman who made a race horse out of him. By this time in his life, he was fully grown and possessed a powerful body.

Many race days called for more than one heat, which is a characteristic of the present day Little Brown Jug event, where the winner is decided after several heats and sometimes a run off.

The first standard bred horse to win the Little Brown Jug from Delaware was Adios Harry in 1954 with Canadian Morris MacDonald driving. MacDonald was an accomplished horseman.

In 1954, there were 15 entrants divided into three groups with each group going two heats. Phantom Lady and Queen Adios each won a heat in their group. Adios Harry won both of his heats and bested his two rivals in the final, pacing the mile in 2:02.2. The purse was $69.332.

“Harry” — as he was known around the barn — was a yearling purchased by J. Howard Lyons of Greenwood, Delaware.

Mr. Lyons was a farmer by trade and owned the land on U.S. 13 half way between Harrington and Felton. He sold the land to the Winkler family.

Mr. Lyons went to the yearling sale at Harrisburg with the idea of purchasing a certain yearling that had good blood lines and good confirmation.
The other horse, Adios Harry, did not look too good, but was told he should buy both. He did. The other horse never made it to the races, and Harry became a national champion.

Harry was a tough horse to break. He in turn broke many bones of those grooms. One claimed he “took care of Harry” but he refused to go in the stall with him. Yes, Harry would carry on, kick the boards off his stall, rear and kick at anything around him. He had a mean streak in him to be sure.

However. his owner, Mr. Lyons, had the recipe for him and made him into a great race horse. To disclose what Mr. Lyons’ recipe was cannot be printed here in this article. Nevertheless, it was common of Harry to be disobedient particularly at the start of a race. He would balk in the middle of the track, refuse to move, or just start kicking.

When he decided it was race time, he would charge after the field, catch them, and beat them to the wire. He had a successful racing career and sired several money winners.

During the next several years, the rules for the Little Brown Jug stake race underwent many changes.

By 1959, The Triple Crown was introduced in both the trot and the pace for 3-year-olds. For the pacers competing for the Triple Crown, the horse had to win the Cane Pace held at Yonkers Raceway, N.Y., the Messenger held at Roosevelt Raceway, and the Little Brown Jug at the Delaware County, Ohio, Fairgrounds. The trophy is permanently housed at Yonkers Raceway trophy case in the Empire Terrace dining room.

Adios Butler, a Delaware race horse, was the first pacing winner of the Triple Crown which began in 1959. He was victorious in the Yonkers Cane Futurity winning in 2:09 on July 16th over a mile and 1/16th with a purse of $54,457. A race longer than a mile was common place during this period, He won The Messenger ($110,994) in track and stake record time of 2:00.1 on August 21.

The next stop was The Little Brown Jug, which is traditionally held on the fourth Thursday in September. He was the first horse to win the final in “The Jug” with a mile faster than two minutes. He also set a world record in his stake win of 1:59.2. The purse was $67,582.

He was syndicated at age 4 for $600,000, which was a record at that time. “Butler” died at age 22 at stud at Fair Chance Farm in Washington Court House, Ohio.

Sometimes events have a strange happening and a strange closing around a horse track. World renowned horseman, trainer and driver Canadian Joe O’Brien had the first shot at purchasing Adios Butler. Butler had one knee much larger than most race horses. O’Brien thought he would never make it to the races because he thought he would not be able to maneuver through the race track turns.

Snow Hill, Md., native, Paige West never gave it a worry. He purchased the great horse to be, and the rest is history.

West was a good trainer, but a wiser man who put the great driver Clint Hodgins in the sulky, including that day to remember at Delaware, Ohio.
Clint was by far “the driver” of the day. He lost the ride when the horse was syndicated.

Butler’s’ career record on the race track was 50-37-4-1 and career winnings of $509,844.

The “Jug” today carries a purse of $600,000, and again the best 3-year-old pacers in the country and maybe the world will get the call of “hereeee they come’ from Hall of Fame announcer Roger Huston. As an old sage once said, “a race declares a winner, but you never know the outcome of a race. That’s why we race to declare a winner.”

The time of the race today will be less than 11 seconds of the time that “Harry” posted at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in 1954 when he toured the mile in 2:02. 1. The race will go in two speeds. fast and faster.

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