The races began early, at 11 a.m., so that the previous day's card could be raced before the events of Jug Day started—a long day's total of 21 heats. The people began coming at 6, about daybreak, to stake out choice vantage points, and they kept coming until 44,721—a record—had filled the grandstand, stood five and six deep around the track and very nearly squeezed the horses right out of their stalls. They came on foot, in cars, on the backs of trucks, and they came in all shapes, sizes and ages. There were bellbottoms and beads mingling with blue-denim coveralls and straw hats. There was hot beer and cold chicken, served from the tailgates of station wagons. There was Charlie Hill's beer truck, a genuine 1917 Sterling, and there was the twangy music of banjos and steel guitars over the P.A. system between races.
"I'll say this for the Jug," said the event's organizer and No. 1 booster, Henry Clay (Hank) Thomson, as he surveyed the masses, "we may not be as fancy as some places—but we sure do have more fun."
Meanwhile, back at the barns, Laverne Hanover had Billy Haughton muttering to himself again. Sometime during the night Laverne had kicked himself in his stall, so that now there were two big knots on his left hind leg.
"I like to died," Haughton said later. "They were great big knots, too, not any little bitty things. It scared the hell out of me because I've seen so many of them bust themselves up in the stall like that. I thought I was going to have to scratch him for sure."
Haughton was not certain whether Laverne would be able to race until 1:30 that afternoon, when he took him out for his first warmup mile. He looked normal enough—big and sleek and sticking his pink tongue way out the right side of his mouth, as he always does—but Haughton could not be sure until he started jogging the colt. "When he stepped off sound, boy, that was a real relief," Haughton said later. "It was like a great big cloud lifting off the top of my head."
To win the Jug, a horse must take two one-mile heats. This year, there were so many horses entered (16) that the first heat had to be raced in two divisions of eight horses each, with the first four finishers in each division advancing to the second heat. If one of the first-heat winners also won the second, the Jug was over and everybody could get back to chicken and beer. Otherwise, there would have to be a raceoff among the heat winners.
Well, Laverne Hanover won the Jug in straight heats, as nearly everyone in Delaware figured he would, but not before poor Billy Haughton almost had a heart attack right there in his sulky. After a 13-to-1 shot named Lightning Wave won the first division—a popular victory because his owners were from down the road in Middletown, Ohio—the crowd pushed up against the fence to watch Laverne duel with an old nemesis, Kat Byrd, in the second division.
Everything was going along smoothly until right before the three-quarter pole, when Haughton and Laverne shifted into high gear and began zipping past horses. As they were picking up steam, a colt named Baker Lobell, driven by Curly Smart, suddenly veered out and into them. They hooked wheels, very nearly locking together as in that chariot racing scene in Ben-Hur. For a few seconds it was a grim business.
"My horse's leg wasn't missing Curly's wheel that much," said Haughton later, holding his hands about six inches apart. "He came near to derailing me...almost eliminated me. I don't think Curly knew I was coming that fast. Damn, it was tight."
That was the last time Haughton and Laverne had any trouble that afternoon. They went on to win the first heat in 2:00 4/5, very good considering the track was still slightly heavy. And then the second heat was a laugher, with Laverne winning in 2:00 2/5. Lightning Wave got second money in the overall finish, with the other half of Haughton's entry, Nardin's Grand Slam, third and Kat Byrd fourth.