The Jug as it's commonly called by locals, is held annually at the Delaware County Fairgrounds the third Thursday after Labor Day. Since its inception it has maintained the original flavor of the sport and competition of harness racing.
The Little Brown Jug is one of the most prestigious 3-year-old pacing races in North America and even the world. Each year more people journey to Delaware, Ohio to witness the Jug than to see any other harness race. 1997 was largest crowd ever to see a harness race, over 56,000, was in attendance. A horse has to win two heats to be declared the winner of the "Jug". There are typically two or three elimination heats, and then the top finishing horses come back for a second heat. If no horse has won two heats the heat winners come back for a final heat. This makes for a very interesting afternoon of racing.
Since it began, the Jug has consistently produced faster times, record purses, and larger crowds. Harness racing started at country fairs in rural settings, and the tradition lives on. Little Brown Jug day is almost like an Oktoberfest ... people come early and tailgate. Sports Illustrated once said that the biggest cocktail party in the state of Ohio is at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on "Jug" day. Paced on the fastest half-mile track in the world, this is the only harness race that still runs in conjunction with a county fair, giving the entire event a small-town feel where visitors can actually walk into the race barn for an up-close look at the horses. Be sure to allow time to walk the fairway, ride the rides, check out the animal exhibits and taste some good old-fashioned fair food.
The Little Brown Jug began in 1937 when the Delaware County Agricultural Society's members, at their annual meeting, voted to move the County Fair, held since its inception at Powell, to Delaware on a tract of land at the northern edge of the city. It is still pretty much the same now as it was then. The Jug is a piece of Americana that endures, virtually unchanged and for good reason: it's the best in the world and the way harness racing was meant to be.
Part of the excitement of harness racing is the wagering. Each race gives seasoned gamblers and first timers the chance to make it big, or just a few dollars worth of encouragement to cheer on your favorite horse.
Here's a few wagering terms that you can toss out in case anyone's paying any attention:
Across The Board: A bet on a horse to win, place and show.
Action: Betting or wagering.
Board: A board on which odds, betting pools and other information are displayed. See Tote Board.
Bomb: A winning horse sent off at extremely high odds.
Box: A wagering term denoting a combination bet whereby all possible numeric combinations are covered.
Breakage: In pari-mutuel payoffs which are rounded out to a nickel or dime, those pennies that are left over. Breakage is generally split between the track and state and in some cases, breeding or other funds, in varying proportions.
Bridge Jumper: A person who wagers large amounts of money, usually on short-priced horses to show, hoping to realize a small, but almost certain profit. The term comes from the structure these bettors may seek if they lose.
Chalk Bettor: Bettor who wagers on favorites.
Chalk: Wagering favorite in a race. Dates from the days when on-track bookmakers would write current odds on a chalkboard.
Commingle: Combining mutuel pools from off-track sites with the host track.
Consolation Double: A payoff to holders of daily double tickets combining the winning horse in the first race of the double with a scratched horse in the second.
Coupled: Two or more horses running as an entry in a single betting unit.
Daily Double: A type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.
Equivalent Odds: Mutual price horses pay for each $1 bet.
Entry: Two or more horses owned by the same stable or (in some cases) trained by the same trainer and thus running as a single betting unit.
Exacta (Or Perfecta): A wager in which the first two finishers in a race, in exact order of finish, must be picked.
Exacta Box: A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are bet on.
Exotic (Wager): Any wager other than win, place or show.
False Favorite: A horse that is a race favorite despite being outclassed by other competition in the field. See underlay.
Favorite: A Horse having the most money wagered on it to win.
Field Horse (Or Mutuel Field): Two or more starters running as a single betting unit, when there are more entrants than the totalisator board can accommodate.
Handicap: A race for which a track handicapper assigns post position. Also, to handicap a race, to make selections on the basis of the past performances.
Handle: Amount of money wagered in the pari-mutuel pool on a race, a program, a meeting or a year.
In The Money: A horse that finishes first, second or third.
Key Horse: A single horse used in multiple combinations in an exotic wager.
Late Double: A second daily double offered during the latter part of the program. See daily double.
Lock: Slang for a "sure thing" winner.
Longshot: Entry not well regarded by bettors, resulting in the possibility of longer odds and higher payoffs.
Minus Pool: A mutual pool caused when one horse is so heavily wagered on, that after deductions of state tax and commission, there is not enough money left to pay the legally prescribed minimum on each winning bet.
Morning Line: Probable odds on each horse in a race, set by a handicapper, who tries to gauge both the ability of the horse and the likely final odds as determined by the bettors.
Mutuel Pool: Short for "pari-mutuel pool." Sum of the wagers on a race or event, such as the win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool, etc.
Odds-On: Odds of less than even money.
On The Nose: Betting a horse to win only.
Out Of The Money: A horse that finishes worse than third.
Overlay: A horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.
Pari-Mutuel (S): A form of wagering originated in 1865 by Frenchman Pierre Oiler in which all money bet is divided up among those who have winning tickets, after taxes, takeout and other deductions are made. Oiler called his system "parier mutuel" meaning "mutual stake" or "betting among ourselves." As this wagering method was adopted in England it became known as "Paris mutuals," and soon after "parimutuels."
Parlay: A multi-race bet in which all winnings are subsequently wagered on each succeeding race.
Part Wheel: Using a key horse or horses in different, but not all possible, exotic wagering combinations. See wheel.
Payoff: The amount of money you get back on a winning ticket. It's also called the payout.
Perfecta: See exacta.
Pick (Number): A type of multi-race wager in which the winners of all the included races must be selected. Pick Three, and Pick Six and are common.
Place Bet: A Wager on a horse to finish first or second.
Pool (Mutuel Pool): Total sum wagered.
Quinella: Wager in which the first two finishers must be picked but may finish in either order.
Show Bet: A Wager on a horse to finish in the money, third or better.
Simulcast: Simultaneous broadcast of a race to betting facilities away from the live track.
Superfecta: A wager picking the first four finishers in exact order.
Take (Takeout): Commission deducted from mutuel pools that are shared by the track, horsemen (in the form of purses) and local and state governing bodies in the form of tax.
Totalizator: An automated pari-mutuel system that dispenses and records betting tickets, calculates and displays odds and payoffs and provides the mechanism for cashing winning tickets. Often shortened to "tote."
Tote Board: Usually in the infield, the tote board displays mutual information, the progressive results, lead and overall times during a race, and the fractional and overall time, mile rate, placings and margins after a race.
Tout: A person who professes to have knowledge or insight of the possible winner or outcome of a race.
A trifecta wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are bet upon.
Trifecta: A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order. Called a "triactor" in Canada and a "triple" in some parts of the U.S.
Underlay: A horse going off at shorter odds than seems warranted by its past performances.
Wheel: Betting all possible combinations in an exotic wager using at least one horse as the key. See part wheel.
Win Bet: A wager on a horse to win.