by Ken Weingartner
Trainer Jimmy Takter says Always B Miki is a horse that will be long remembered in the future. For now, Takter and the 5-year-old pacer’s connections are more than enjoying the stallion’s present.
Always B Miki won his highly anticipated showdown with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete in Saturday’s (July 2) $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Always B Miki defeated Freaky Feet Pete by three-quarters of a length in a stakes- and world-record-equaling 1:47, with Wiggle It Jiggleit finishing third.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Always B Miki defeated Freaky Feet Pete by three-quarters of a length in a stakes- and world-record-equaling 1:47.|
The time equaled the fastest mile in history on a five-eighths-mile racetrack. Always B Miki, who also won in 1:47 last week at Pocono, shares the record with Sweet Lou.
Wiggle It Jiggleit went to the lead off the starting gate, but Freaky Feet Pete left quickly from post six and got to the front following an opening quarter-mile in :25.4. Always B Miki, who started from post seven, was moved to the lead by driver David Miller prior to the halfway point, reached in :53, and then was pressured on the outside by first-over Wiggle It Jiggleit.
Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit battled each other around the final turn, but Always B Miki repelled the challenge before holding off an inside bid from Freaky Feet Pete.
“I knew David was going to be aggressive,” Takter said. “We talked about it and he said he wasn’t going to sit and wait for something to happen. He was in it to win it.
“The way the race unfolded, he had to work hard. It wasn’t given to him. I knew that Wiggle It (Jiggleit) would come right away. He did the right move. He hoped the :53 (half) would have stung my horse a little bit and then he’d come at him. But I have to say all three of those horses raced a heck of a race. They all raced fantastic.”
Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete both got warm ovations from the large crowd at Pocono as they made their ways back to the paddock.
History’s fastest pacing mile is the 1:46.1 time-trial mark established by Cambest in 1993. The fastest time for a race mile is 1:46.4, which is shared by four horses.
“The track is not really as fast as it was last week and it’s a colder evening,” Takter said. “If it was a warm evening, I think they would have gone a second faster. This is not Miki’s favorite (track size). He’s more a big track horse. But he’s handling the small track better and better.”
Always B Miki has won five of seven races this year and nine of 11 since returning from injury last October. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.
For his career, Always B Miki has won 23 of 42 starts and earned $1.56 million.
“He’s one of those horses that people are going to remember for a long, long time,” Takter said.
Sent off as the 8-5 second choice behind favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit, Always B Miki paid $5.20, $3.00 and $2.20.
Montrell Teague, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver, said his trip didn’t work out as he envisioned.
“He raced good, it just wasn’t the ideal trip that I thought I was going to get,” Teague said. “Like I said, you can’t go in there with a game plan. It’s a horserace, you never know what’s going to happen.
“The biggest surprise was there weren’t as many leavers. I was thinking five of them were going to come out of there, but it was just the main three. (Always B) Miki left the gate good and got his good trip.”
Trace Tetrick, the driver of Freaky Feet Pete, was happy with his horse’s effort.
“It was a great race,” Tetrick said. “The trip kind of worked out like I thought it would. I was hoping to press and land on the front and control it, or get moved on by either Montrell or David.
“David took me as long as I needed to go, I just needed a little longer stretch to beat him.”
The Western Ideal 5-year-old stallion Luck Be Withyou continued his career-long love affair with Pocono, taking the $75,000 Ben Franklin consolation in 1:47.4.
Luck Be Withyou, who had an outside post in his Franklin elim and couldn’t enter contention, drew the rail for the consolation and would not cede the lead through amazing fractions of :25.4, :52.4, and 1:19.4, then was kept alive through the stretch by Pocono’s leading driver, George Napolitano Jr. while also lowering his lifetime best by a tick.
Winner of the 2013 Breeders Crown and the 2015 Franklin championship at Pocono, Luck Be Withyou, conditioned by Chris Oakes when on the local scene, has earned the majority of his $1,195,281 career bankroll over the red clay oval for owner John Craig.
— PHHA/Pocono also contributed to this story