06/01/2010 11:00PM

Hudson has major local player in Snug


Belmont Park was an occasional field trip for Jim Hudson when he was a member of the New York Jets team that won the Super Bowl in 1969, but he never really thought his post-football career would be in racing. Fast forward to 2010, and Hudson has logged more than 30 years as a trainer, and his barn houses one of the top Louisiana-breds in Snug.

Snug, who has quietly earned close to $450,000, had his day in the sun last month at Louisiana Downs when he won the main event on the Louisiana Cup card, the $100,000 Turf Classic. It was the fourth stakes win for Snug, a winner on dirt and turf who will run next on the Louisiana Showcase program at Evangeline on July 3. His options are the $100,000 Classic on dirt or the $100,000 Turf.

"We'll nominate to both races and see which one we go in," said Hudson, who has 18 horses in training at Louisiana Downs. "He came back real good. We're just waiting on the next race, giving him a little rest before we get going with him again."

An imposing 5-year-old who stands a little over 17 hands tall, Snug earned one of his best Beyer Figures, a 91, for his 1 1/2-length score in the Classic. Hudson said he counts Snug among the best horses he has trained, alongside Icy Morn, a 12-time stakes winner of close to $400,000, and Daggett's Crossing, who won six stakes and more than $300,000.

"He just never makes any mistakes," Hudson said. "He has a lot of class."

Hudson, who played safety for the Jets, ventured to Belmont on occasion, since the team's training camp was located a few miles from the track. During his time with the Jets, he roomed with quarterback Joe Namath, whom he played against in the Orange Bowl when they were seniors in college. Namath was the quarterback for Alabama, and Hudson the quarterback for the University of Texas.

Upon retiring from football, Hudson trained Quarter Horses in Texas. When the state resurrected parimutuel wagering, he began training Thoroughbreds. Racing has turned out to be a nice fit for his competitive nature.

"You always enjoy the rush you get during a race," Hudson said. "That's about the thing you miss more than anything as an athlete. The rush you get before kickoff. It's an adrenaline rush."