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Captain Barbossa Wins The 2020 Little Brown Jug

Mark Hall / USTA

Captain Barbossa captured Thursday’s $335,400
Little Brown Jug final for 3-year-old male pacers in

(Courtesy of USTA Media Relations) Manager

Delaware, OH — Captain Barbossa found the perfect time to visit the winner’s circle for the first time this year, capturing Thursday’s $335,400 Little Brown Jug final for 3-year-old male pacers in 1:49.1 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in central Ohio. Cattlewash was second and Catch The Fire finished third.

The win was Captain Barbossa’s first in 13 races this season. The gelding, who finished second in his Jug elimination, was driven to victory in the final by Joe Bongiorno, who celebrated his 27th birthday Wednesday. Captain Barbossa gave Bongiorno his first Jug trophy, as well as the first for trainer Tony Alagna.

Captain Barbossa, a son of Captaintreacherous out of Swinging Beauty, is owned by Robert LeBlanc, David Anderson, and the partnership of Alagna, Martha Frank, John Fodera, and Steven Wienick. He was bred by Steiner Stock Farm.

His winning time was one-fifth of a second off the stakes and world record for a 3-year-old pacer on a half-mile track. The margin of victory was 1-1/2 lengths.

“He’s been a really hard-luck horse this year,” Alagna said. “He’s drawn a lot of bad posts, like the nine-hole in the (North America Cup), and he finally gets his due.”

Captain Barbossa headed to Delaware off back-to-back second-place finishes in stakes races at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He finished second in his Jug elimination, which was won by Sandbetweenmytoes in 1:49.3, and drew post four for the final.

In the final, Bongiorno watched Catch The Fire, the event’s other elimination winner and slight even-money favorite, and Sandbetweenmytoes battle for the lead in a :26 opening quarter. Sandbetweenmytoes held the top spot heading to the half, reached in :53.3, as Captain Barbossa began a first-over march from third.

Captain Barbossa continued to work his way toward the leader on the backstretch, getting to the front just prior to reaching three-quarters in 1:21.2. From there, he held off Cattlewash to claim the 75th edition of the Jug.

“I definitely did (think I had a shot in the final) because my horse had the most pace finishing in the second elimination,” Bongiorno said. “Being able to sneak around (Seeyou At Thebeach in post three) when the gate sprung, I saw he was fumbly gaited, I think that was basically the winning move.

“I closed the hole coming out of the first turn, made (Sandbetweenmytoes) keep going, push the tempo. I knew being first over was going to be the spot to be at that point, with the fast half in 53 and a piece.”

Bongiorno, who in August got his 2,000th career win, enjoyed a memorable visit to Delaware. On Wednesday, he picked up the drive with New Year in the Jugette final for 3-year-old filly pacers and finished second behind unbeaten Party Girl Hill.

“There’s really no words to describe it,” Bongiorno said about winning the Jug. “The last couple of days have been a dream come true.

“Today, I couldn’t thank Tony and his owners enough for entrusting me with this horse.”

Captain Barbossa has earned $286,800 this season and $414,288 in his career. He has won four of 27 races lifetime, with 10 second-place finishes and three thirds.

“We felt like he was this kind of horse,” Alagna said. “The way he started out his 3-year-old year, he went some really good miles early against the best colts.

“I felt very good about him after the first heat, the way he finished up his mile and the way he cooled out. He got a great drive by Joey in the final and he got it done. I was watching it outside and when he came around the third turn heading up the backside Joey was just sitting there riding. I thought, this horse has still got go. When he cleared to the front, he just opened up on them.

“Standing there watching it, I couldn’t believe how it was unfolding before my eyes.”

Captain Barbossa’s Jug triumph also continued a memorable year for owners LeBlanc, Fodera, and Wienick, who are part of the group that owns Alagna-trained Hambletonian winner Ramona Hill.

“I’m screaming as much as Hambo Day,” said Fodera, a three-time Jug winner who was watching this year’s event from his Staten Island home. “I was as hyper as ever during the race.”

Alagna, who set a career high with $5.99 million in purses last year, became the first trainer to win the Hambletonian and Little Brown Jug in the same year since Billy Haughton in 1974. Alagna entered three horses in this year’s Little Brown Jug, an event he loves to support.

“I bring at least two or three horses every year,” he said. “We love the hospitality, the way we’re treated, the fans. We hate that the fans aren’t here this year, but the backbone of racing is here, and we want to be here to represent it.

“We haven’t had the best of luck in Delaware and it’s always been disheartening. It seems when I take my horses over there, they’re just not at their best, or they have bad luck. It’s just nice to finally have something go right and to get that win.”

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