Delaware, OH – Sitting in the Log Cabin, waiting for the draw to be completed for Thursday’s Little Brown Jug program, is perhaps the one man whose voice alone reminds tens of thousands of people where they are and who he is. It’s none other than Roger Huston, the voice of the Little Brown Jug.
It’s Monday, September 16, 2013 and it’s Roger’s 71St birthday. It’s ironic that the man who has called the Little Brown Jug race card for the past 46 years usually celebrates his birthday at the racetrack.
“I actually started calling races at the Delaware State Fair the year before,” Huston recalled. “It was because Hank Thomas had left that season and they asked Stan Bergstein to call Jug Week but he said he could only do the Little Brown Jug Day so I got the call to come and do the first few days and got to call a few races on Jug Day.
“I had been coming to the Jug since Adios Butler won it in 1958,” Huston said. “I was in high school and loved racing but never did I dream I become the Jug’s announcer.”
Over the year’s Roger Huston has called and seen the greatest three-year-olds in the history of harness racing go in the Little Brown Jug.
“I can’t tell you which one race was the best Jug I ever saw or called,” Huston said, “There have been so many races and everyone was dramatic and special to me. Even some of the other races on Jug Day were impressive to me. I remember when Tom Harmer had Falcon Seelster and he was not eligible to the Jug so he raced him on the program in an invitational race against older horses.
“That was the race where he set the world record and I coined one of my best phrases as an announcer,” Huston explained, “I knew by the three-quarters he was going so fast that he had a great shot at the world mark so I said “If you have never been on your feet before…you better stand up now!” And sure enough Falcon Seelster went faster than any horse ever did on a half mile track and in 1:51. Later that day Nihilator won the Jug in 1:52.1.”
There have been so many other great Jug Day events that Huston loves to talk about.
“I’ve loved them all,” Huston said. “When Herve Filion won with Nansemond against Stanley Dancer and Albatross in 1971 was a classic. Stanley had told a reporter he thought all he would have to do is go around the track and Albatross would win the Jug. Well, some people make copies of the story and placed it all around the fair and come time for the post parade they booed Stanley and when Herve won the crowds were screaming and cheering for them.
“In 1977 Governor Skipper was almost scratched,” Huston said, “He was chewing on the wood in his stall and got a big sliver in his gum. But they got him a big rubber bit and he raced and dominated the Jug. And there was Big Bad John in 2011. I called 11 of his starts and he never lost one of them including the Jug. His trainer said when he came back the next year that he would hear my voice on the loud speaker and pick his head up by the window and when another announcer called a race he wouldn't’t pick up his head. So when he won again that day his owner, Ed Telle, gave me a duplicate of the trophy. That was very special.”
What does Roger do to prepare for Jug Week?
“Nothing special,” Huston said. “It’s almost like a normal week of calling the races at The Meadows except for Jug Day. I make sure I have plenty of Halls eucalyptus cough drops and some of my special elixir in case my throat gets sore. But Jug Day is never normal, it’s very emotional to me.”
Before allowing Huston to later head out to celebrate his birthday, the big question for Little Brown Jug Week had to be asked. Who would win this year?
“Before the Adios,” Huston said, “I really liked Vegas Vacation so I’m sticking with him to win the Jug. But now I also have a long shot to consider in Lone Wolf Currier. Last week with Dave Palone driving him he was boxed in for his life in the $260,000 PASS final and nearly pulled it off late in the mile.”
Happy Birthday Roger Huston!
By Steve Wolf for Harnesslink.com