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Doing his jig with the Jug
William F. Reed
October 04, 1971
Herve Filion danced off with pacing's most esteemed trophy after driving Nansemond to an improbable victory over the mighty Albatross
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October 04, 1971

Doing His Jig With The Jug

Herve Filion danced off with pacing's most esteemed trophy after driving Nansemond to an improbable victory over the mighty Albatross

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Since the 1971 Jug drew 15 entrants, the opening heat was split into two divisions. The winner of the first was H T Luca, driven by Del Insko. Then the track was sprayed and raked, and it was time for Albatross to fly.

Early in the race Filion took Nansemond to the lead, with Albatross, who started from the extreme outside post, settling comfortably in fourth. Just before the three-quarter mark Dancer and Albatross moved outside. As they swept past Nansemond turning for home, everybody expected one of the Big Bird's bursts of acceleration. "I was looking for Stanley to go past me with a whoosh," said Filion, "but when he tried I hit my horse and he took off. I couldn't believe it." While the judges examined the finish picture it was Filion who was smiling and Dancer who looked worried.

"Well, Stanley, you won," said Filion when the result was posted. "I hate to see it happen, but that's show biz." Even Dancer laughed.

The top four horses in each division came back for the next heat. This time Dancer set most of the pace. Again as they turned for home he had the lead, now with H T Luca second and Nansemond third. But when Nansemond rushed up on the outside, Albatross did not respond to Dancer's whip. At the wire Nansemond was in front by a full length. "I like to be Hertz, not Avis," said a jubilant Filion. "I didn't whip my horse at all. I just yelled at him. In both French and English. He understands both, you know."

As the three heat winners got ready for the race-off, Filion said, "The only thing I can do is take the lead and make Albatross come after me." But he did more than take the lead; he slowed the pace to a crawl that would have embarrassed a claimer. Even so, when Dancer asked Albatross to move just after the three-quarter pole, he feared he did not have enough horse. Still, the Bird showed his class by taking the lead midway through the last turn. In response Filion hit Nansemond a few whacks with his whip. Nansemond began to pull away, and it quickly was apparent that Albatross was finished.

For Filion it was by far the most important victory of his career, but he did not allow himself time to savor it. He hurried to a private plane and took off for New York's Roosevelt Raceway, where he was scheduled to drive in eight races that night. "I'm trying to win 500 races this year," said Filion, whose 486 last year was a world record. "Just because I won the Brown Jug, I can't stop living, you know."

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