by Mike Farrell, for the Meadowlands
After two rounds, Always B Miki remains the undisputed champion of the Free-For-All pacers. The 5-year-old again affirmed his standing as the king of what has become harness racing’s glamour division, improving to 2-0 in the second high-profile matchup with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete.
|Always B Miki continues to pace his way into the history books with a third consecutive world record in the William R. Haughton Memorial.|
Always B Miki and driver David Miller took command down the backstretch with a powerful brush past Wiggle It Jiggleit and went on to a three-quarter length victory over 39-1 shot Shamballa in the $471,800 William R. Haughton Memorial Saturday (July 16) night at The Meadowlands.
And it was another world record–his third straight–pacing the 1-1/8 miles in 2:01.1 as the 2-5 favorite in the 12-horse field. Always B Miki ($2.80) posted a fourth straight win, improving his season mark to 6-2-0 in eight starts for trainer Jimmy Takter and the ownership team of Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter.
“He’s just a fantastic horse to do what he does,” Jimmy Takter said. “He’s gone through a lot. It takes a special horse to come back from all the injuries he had. It gets me very emotional every time I see him race.
“This horse is one of a kind. I’ve had quite a few nice pacers, but this horse, you don’t do what he’s doing. I’m always a big statement guy, but I think this could be the greatest horse who ever lived. I really think so. He didn’t have an easy trip today. He won by a length and a half, maybe, but he’s a lazy horse. He’s not a grabby horse. But if somebody challenges him, he’s got another gear.”
“I watched (Shambala) race quite a bit in Canada and he’s a solid quality horse,” said driver David Miller. “He was hanging right with me around the last turn and when I called on Miki he kept going right with me. That horse raced great.
“Once I got to the front as easily as I did, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I thought it would be more of a battle. They went :25.3 and Montrell cut me right loose. He drove a very good race.
“I just didn’t want to get caught up in some :25 and :52 type thing trying to make the front. I was really kind of searching for some cover. Leaving out of there, I was thinking of following behind Zeron because I figured he could take me where I had to go. As soon as Montrell crossed over he started grabbing up and as soon as I got to him he turned me loose.”
The most surprising aspect of the Haughton was the determined showing by Shamballa, who ranged up first-over to challenge Always B Miki and hung in gamely right to the finish.
Wiggle It Jiggleit, stung by a :25.3 opening quarter while forced three-wide as he worked his way to the front from post 10, finished third. Freaky Feet Pete was fourth.
The stage for the Haughton was set in the Ben Franklin Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on July 2. Always B Miki won that first meeting, a 1:47 mile equaling the world record.Wiggle It Jiggleit, the defending Horse of the Year, bested Freaky Feet Pete last weekend in the Graduate over the sloppy track at Big M, a race restricted to 4-year-olds.
Returning after the week off, Always B Miki delivered another dynamite performance as the leader in the weekly Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll again cemented his grip on the top spot.
— Ken Weingartner also contributed to this story