Friday, September 19, 2014

The Spotlight Belonged to Limelight Beach.

By Ken Weingartner

Limelight Beach entered Thursday’s $647,500 Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers winless in 12 starts this year, but the past meant nothing at the Delaware County Fair. Limelight Beach swept two heats to capture the Jug trophy, winning his elimination in 1:51 and taking the final in 1:50.4.

The victory gave trainer Ron Burke and driver Yannick Gingras their first Jug champion. Limelight Beach won the 69th Little Brown Jug, presented by Fazoli’s, by 1-1/2 lengths over Let’s Drink On It, with Gingras pumping his fist triumphantly at the wire.

"This horse came up huge today," Gingras said. "He went two big, big heats. We kind of got lucky a little bit in the first heat, there was a seam there and I was able to take it, but he came back the second heat and he was scary. He had plenty left."

Limelight Beach drew post No. 1 for the second heat and took advantage of the starting spot, blasting to the front and controlling the action from there. Let’s Drink On It and driver Tyler Smith, who won the Jug’s other first-round elimination, got away second from post two but would get no closer the rest of the way.

Let’s Drink On It ended up second. Somewhere In L A -- who tried to collar Limelight Beach with a first-over move on the backstretch -- finished third and At Press Time was fourth.

"I was looking at the program and there was not a lot of speed," Gingras said. "My horse, people had to respect his speed. Tyler’s horse got out of the gate a little bit better than I thought, but there was no doubt I was happy about it. I kept him moving along; I didn’t want to go too slow. He put in an awesome performance."

Limelight Beach won six of 10 races last year, finishing the season with victories in divisions of the Bluegrass and International Stallion stakes. Most of the colt’s ownership group sold their interests in Limelight Beach to Burke in July, with the Ohio-based Wingfield Brothers stable -- Charles, Robert, Thomas and William -- staying on board.

"We just had too much fun with him last year and we stayed for this race right here," Charles Wingfield said. "It’s just amazing. I can’t believe it."

Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and M1 Stable also share ownership of Limelight Beach, a son of Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Benear. He was purchased originally for $25,000 under the name Marblehead Johnson at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale.

Burke bought the colt because Limelight Beach was eligible to the Delvin Miller Adios, which is contested at Burke’s home track -- The Meadows. The horse finished fourth in his Adios elimination, failing to advance to the final. Two months later, though, the purchase paid an unexpected dividend.

"(The Adios) didn’t work out, so from there we moved on," Burke said. "This was the Wingfields’ dream and our dream. It was awesome for all of us.

"It was a great day. We’re thrilled.

"I normally do not get over emotional but I am very emotional today. This race is the Jug and we purchased this horse because we knew he was the perfect horse for this track. Also because we knew he would be ready to go being from Brian's (former trainer Brown) barn.

"Again I am emotional because winning a race like this shows how hard all of us, the entire team, work every day to make something special like this happen. I could never do it alone and winning the Jug just hammers that point home and is not just special to me but to our entire team."

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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