by Kim French
When the horses placed their hooves on the track for the post parade of the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial on Saturday (Sept. 10) at Eldorado Scioto Downs, the throng lining the fence let out a roar for defending Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit. The stands were packed to catch a glimpse of an athlete that has captured the hearts and imaginations of legions of fans during his two-year career.
When the horses crossed the finish line, however, all those in attendance had shifted their adulation to honor the effort of his winning rival, Always B Miki, for not only had they been privy to witness greatness, but they were present for a world record equaling performance of 1:47, that will surely become an integral component of the sport’s history.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Always B Miki equaled his own all-age world record for pacers on a five-eighths-mile track with a 1:47 score over Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial.|
That time equaled the all-age mark for a pacer on a five-eighths-mile oval set by Sweet Lou in 2014 and equaled by Always B Miki in both the Ben Franklin elimination and final earlier this year. Those miles all came at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
“He’s a big horse alright,” said his pilot Brett Miller in the winner’s circle immediately after handing over the lines. “He has so much power. You just can’t let him get too into himself.”
When the superb field of nine left the gate, Always B Miki, who commenced pacing from post six, was the 4-5 favorite but Wiggle It Jiggleit at 8-5 was also receiving his share of support at the windows.
Shortly after the starter allowed the horses to begin the mile, Eric Goodell sent Luck Be Withyou to the lead from post position five.
Wiggle It Jiggleit and his regular reinsman Montrell Teague were not content to allow that competitor to cut the mile and made their move to the front from post position eight. Miller and Always B Miki had their own designs on the lead. The crowd was gasping at the sheer speed displayed by the pacers as Luck Be Withyou had laid down a scorching :25.2 first quarter.
Wiggle It Jiggleit brushed to the lead in front of the grandstand before Always B Miki procured the lead on the outside by the half-mile marker. The Jimmy Takter trainee appeared to pay the price for that effort when :53 flashed on the timer. As Wiggle It Jiggleit sat second, Always B Miki still maintained a head advantage after three-quarters in a sizzling 1:19.
Wiggle It Jiggleit appeared poised to come through on the inside and overhaul Always B Miki down the lane, but the 5-year-old stallion would not be denied. After a nip and tuck battle between these two champions, Always B Miki prevailed. Several hundred feet from the wire, he repelled the bid of Wiggle It Jiggleit and hit the wire three-quarters of a length in front. Luck Be Withyou raced exceptionally well to be third, while Freaky Feet Pete, who had a very tough trip, finished fourth.
Conditioned by Jimmy Takter and owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, Always B Miki paid $3.80 to win, with Wiggle It Jiggleit paying $3.00 to place and Luck Be Withyou $3.60 to show. The exacta was $8.00 and the trifecta $50.60.
Normally not one to show much emotion, Takter posed with a picture with his charge absolutely beaming. When asked to discuss the heroic feat Always B Miki had just produced, he acknowledged how scintillating it was to be associated with a horse with this much ability. He also noted, however, for the stallion to consistently provide the sport with a number of 1:47 miles this season, it does require much more than natural talent.
“It is not an easy thing to keep a horse at that kind of level for a long period of time,” he said. “This is a very special horse.”