DELAWARE, OHIO, SEPT. 19 -- Trainer Gordon Remmer says it's no surprise that Beach Towel is a heavy favorite for Thursday's Little Brown Jug.
"We consider him to be a once-in-a-lifetime horse," Remmer said today of the 3-year-old French Chef colt.
Heavy rains earlier in the week caused the postponement of Grand Circuit racing on Sunday and again today. But sunshine and mild temperatures are expected at the Delaware County Fairgrounds Thursday for the Jug, the third jewel in pacing's triple crown.
Beach Towel had been undefeated this season until Jake And Elwood edged him in the Messenger -- the triple crown's middle jewel -- on Sept. 8 at Rosecroft Raceway. Jake And Elwood also won the first leg, the Cane Pace at Yonkers. But his owners did not meet eligibility payments to qualify for the Jug.
Beach Towel is owned by Seth Rosenfeld's Uptown Stables of New York City, but it is the Remmen brothers who have guided the horse to the upper echelon of racing. Ray is the driver; Gordon and Larry are co-trainers.
"This would be the biggest victory we've ever had, a lot bigger than the Meadowlands Pace. The Jug is something we've read about since we were little kids. And now, to finally have a horse good enough to win it, is the pinnacle," Gordon said.
The 22-horse field will start in three eliminations. Beach Towel was considered the horse to beat even before he drew the No. 2 post in the third elimination, away from most of the other top contenders.
Chief among the challengers are In The Pocket, Global Assault, Road Machine and Brando Hanover in the first elimination. Kiev Hanover, who set a Messenger record in winning one of the elimination heats at Rosecroft, and CKS are horses to beat in the second and Scoot Outa Reach in the third.
Beach Towel has won 24 of 30 career races and $2.11 million in purses.
Even the horsemen associated with the other top horses acknowledge Beach Towel as the horse to beat.
"He's the best, just on overall ability," said Blair Burgess, trainer of Road Machine. "He does everything right. . . . The only question about Beach Towel is the half-mile track. He hasn't had much experience on a half-mile. But then again, this isn't a normal half-mile track. It has gradual turns, so it's more like a five-eighths-mile track."
In The Pocket's trainer, Ken Seeber, said, "Beach Towel has basically been there before. He's raced against these horses all year and he's beaten his peers week in and week out. He's the one that has consistently beaten the rest since May."
In The Pocket provides owner Lou Guida with a shot at a third Jug champion, to go with Niatross and Nihilator.
Seeber said if his horse makes the final against Beach Towel, it has one advantage.
"Even up, if they both get good post positions, I think In The Pocket can pace with Beach Towel," said Seeber. "In The Pocket hasn't been strong in second heats, while Beach Towel has. But one factor in our favor is we've got John Campbell driving."
Campbell is ranked No.1 in driver winnings with almost $8.5 million this year. He is also the top dash-winning driver with 487 victories.
The eliminations of the Jug are scheduled for the 13th (eight entries), 14th and 15th races (seven entries apiece). Because of the large number of races, post time for the first race has been moved to 10:20 a.m.