Last week my family celebrated a pretty epic event – we won the Little Brown Jug. Because I wasn’t there, I asked a few of my cousins to pen their experience because I want it to be a part of my digital footprint. Today’s comes thanks to my cousin, Rebecca Browning. 

The morning was filled with hope, excitement and nerves as the lawn chairs began to fill up with family and friends. There was a chill in the air and when the sun came out and it set the tone for a beautiful day! The conversation that day included talking about the race and someone would say, ‘If we win” and then within moments, an interjection of “WHEN we win” “Ah yes, WHEN we win…how do we get across? WHEN we win…how many people will be in the picture? WHEN we win…how are we getting Uncle Bill and Aunt Judy over there quick enough? WHEN we win…what day will we go home?

We walked over to see Limelight Beach and it never dawned on me that we weren’t just walking to a horse barn to see him we were walking into the JUG BARN! As I walked through the entrance it hit me like a ton of bricks, our horse is in this barn. Our horse is in the Jug Barn!

It was an amazing feeling. So proud. So hopeful. So happy. The kid in me was coming out and I was in awe of all these beautiful horses and couldn’t believe after all the times I had walked the circle looking at these majestic horses I was now looking at our horse in that very circle. We talked to Limelight Beach and took pictures with him and gave him our good luck wishes. We always sit in the same chairs on the barn side of the race track. We were nearly opposite of the finish line but you can’t see every second of the race because of buildings, tents, and the tote board. When Limelight Beach won his first heat, everyone cheered, hugged and tore out of the seats like a bat out of hell to run to the winners circle. I remember repeatedly yelling as I was running “Are we sure we won?” When I turned the corner and saw the tote board and the 2 horse had been declared the winner, chills filled my body! We all ran, jumping, hugging each other across the infield. It was so crazy to be in the winner’s circle…little did we know that it was only the first time that day we would be there.

Used without permission from Rebecca's facebook profile.

Used without permission from Rebecca’s facebook profile.

The next hour went by in a flash…Thank God! Because more nerves sat in but also a kind of hope settled over our 50+ chairs. We had a trainer family friend watch all the races with us. When I heard him talk about Limelight Beach and the finalist…I knew we were going to win. There was a lot of that talk going around. Limelight Beach was the horse to beat in that race. Moments before the race began two bald eagles flew over the track. As we all pointed at and admired the eagles, we felt a calmness and confidence come over the cheering section. We stood on chairs and coolers, we crowded the fence, and we peered over top of loved ones and once again waited and watched. Limelight Beach owned that race and put on a show for us!

It became obvious he was going to win and the noise grew louder and louder and louder. We erupted with tears, cheers and laughter. We just won the jug! There was a moment after he won and we were hugging, high-fiving, kissing, and/or shaking the person next to us and we just stopped and realized we needed to run like Hell to get to the other side. That moment was so exhilarating!

I am a sentimental person and I feel close to people when I have one of their personal possessions. When Grandpa Bill passed away I rummaged through his things, along with all my cousins and I ended up claiming a navy blue cardigan with big wooden buttons. It’s gender neutral enough and I love wrapping up in the worn out garment so I wear it often in cold months. Chilly Ohio mornings in September call for a sweater. And I had the perfect one. (I love that moment when an outfit comes together and when I saw that sweater I knew it was the perfect thing to wear.) So I kept the sweater on me most of the day even tied around my waist when the sun was pounding down on us in the heat of the afternoon. That heat (and beers) must have got to me before the final race. I wasn’t wearing the sweater. The race was over and I started to make my mad dash to the other side and had a sudden tug to turn around and there in the already abandoned chairs was the sweater. I grabbed it and took off. Grandpa Bill was headed to the winners circle too.

The 2nd trip over was even more celebrated. The winners circle was jam packed. I’ve had my picture taken in the winner’s circle since I was young. But I have never looked out from the circle to see so many reporters, cameras and fans! It was absolutely crazy! I never really imagined such a big moment like that or what it would feel like. The moment was prestigious. The blanket of yellow roses draped over Limelight Beach along with the reigns filled with white and yellow carnations that adored him were aromatic and beautiful. The coveted trophy was shiny and so big and heavy! This was a moment that only the greats get to relish in. Looking back, it’s a moment comparable to someone winning the Kentucky Derby, Daytona 500, The Stanley Cup, or NBA Championship. It was so surreal. For many they kept repeating…we just won the jug! Many would say…it’s so surreal. It hasn’t sunk in yet.

The celebration in the winner’s circle was epic for the Wingfield Brothers. One brother’s hobby created so much hope, togetherness, and happiness for everyone in the family! I turned the hometown radio on the day after the win to my father saying that this horse has created a lot of opportunities to be with family and “before today we already felt like winners!”

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