by T. J. Burkett and Ken Weingartner (U.S. Trotting Association)
Cover photo by Hempt E Salonick
“I felt good in January, and that part hasn’t changed,” Teague said with a grin Saturday (July 4) after watching Wiggle It Jiggleit capture the $500,000for 3-year-old male pacers at the harness racing meeting at by 1-1/2 lengths over Artspeak in 1:48.2.
“He doesn’t disappoint. Even in his loss, I wasn’t jumping off the bandwagon. He’s a good horse. I still think he’s one of the best 3-year-olds I’ve ever had.”
Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 13 of 14 career races for owner Teague, trainer Clyde Francis and driver.
His only loss came June 20 in the North America Cup, where he was defeated by Wakizashi Hanover by three-quarters of a length.
On Saturday in the Hempt, Wiggle It Jiggleit took the lead following a :26 opening quarter-mile, fought off a first-over challenge from Pierce Hanover on the backstretch, and then pulled away down the stretch.
Artspeak finished second, followed by In The Arsenal and Wakizashi Hanover.
“When he cleared to the front I knew he had a pretty good shot at it,” Francis said. “Wakizashi has a big kick on the end of it but he wasn’t making up much ground. Halfway down the lane nobody got close to him and I knew they weren’t going to catch him then.”
Montrell Teague, who won the Hempt in 2011 with Custard The Dragon, was taking nothing for granted.
“I was looking everywhere; I was looking for anybody,” he said. “I saw Timmy (Tetrick with Wakizashi Hanover) pull three wide and that’s when I popped the earplugs and stepped on the gas because I know how good his horse is coming off cover.”
Wiggle It Jiggleit, a son of-Mozzi Hanover, gave George Teague Jr. his fourth Hempt trophy. He trained Custard The Dragon as well as 2009 winner Johnny Z and 2008 champ Badlands Nitro.
The gelding’s next assignment will be the Meadowlands Pace.
With the triumph, Wiggle It Jiggleit pushed his career earnings to $607,242. But the most important thing for Teague was the two people with whom he is sharing the ride.
“Montrell and Clyde Francis are the best part for me,” Teague said, adding about Francis, “We’re like brothers. He works his (butt) off.”
Luck Be Withyou overcomes post nine in Franklin triumph
The $500,000free for all pace turned out to be as thrilling as a front-end win can be as Luck Be Withyou held on by the shortest of noses over Domethatagain in 1:49 on Saturday (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Domethatagain, driven by Simon Allard, left from the rail off the gate, but Luck Be Withyou and. took command before the turn from post nine.
Luck Be Withyou led through a quarter in :26.2 and the half in :55, which were favorable fractions in the eyes of the 4-year-old horse’s owner, John Craig.
“I didn’t think it was so bad when it was :26.2, because he got the lead in :26 last week in the slop, with a half in :53 and change,” he said. “When I saw :55 at the half, I said ‘There are good horses back there like Foiled Again and State Treasurer and they are going to come at him. I hope he has enough.'”
Luck Be Withyou kept on chugging through three-quarters in 1:21.4. He was a length clear at the top of the stretch, with only Domethatagain coming at him up the rail. It took a long look at the photo before Luck Be Withyou was declared the winner, with favored State Treasurer third. Luck Be Withyou paid $10 to win as the public’s second choice.
“He had just enough,” Craig said with a grin. “It’s hard to explain to people the adrenaline rush you get when you see a race like that.”
Luck Be Withyou, by-Trim Hanover, is trained by , who got some credit from his owner.
“All the credit goes to those who work on the horse,” he said. “I just watch and pay the bills.”
Pinkman bounces back to win Beal in world record score
Pinkman rebounded from his first loss of the year by posting a gate-to-wire win in Saturday’s (July 4) $500,000for 3-year-old male trotters, holding off stablemate Uncle Lasse by a head in a world-record 1:51.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Pinkman, last year’s Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, and drivergot the lead with a :27.1 opening quarter-mile and then controlled the race from there, going to the half in :56.2. Centurion ATM made a first-over bid on the backstretch, getting within a head of the leader, but was unable to get to the front.
In the stretch, the-trained Pinkman held off Uncle Lasse to his inside to post his fourth victory in five starts this season. Pinkman’s time was the fastest-ever mile by a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile track.
Crazy Wow finished third followed by Centurion ATM.
Last week, Pinkman finished second to Wicker Hanover in his Beal elimination and was found to be sick.
“I can’t complain about the trip, the fractions, everything went his way,” Gingras said about Pinkman’s performance in the Beal final. “He’s got that intimidating speed; he can leave the gate so good. Last week leaving the gate I knew he wasn’t quite right because he didn’t leave the gate like he did today. Usually the first couple steps he just snaps right out.
“Today he was back to himself and I don’t even think he’s a hundred percent. I’d say last week he was 50 or 60 percent and he was probably like 90 today. I think Jimmy can get him even better than this.”
For his career, Pinkman has won 10 of 13 races and earned $924,300 for owners Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.
“I saw him open up at like 5-1 (odds) tonight and Crazy Wow was 3-5 or something,” Gingras said. “They’ve got to start giving him credit. He doesn’t do it flashy, he does it the way he did it today, but he gets it done. He’s a winner.”
Bettor Be Steppin wins wild Lynch Memorial
What was a wide-open race on paper became a wide-open finish as Bettor Be Steppin andgot up to win the $300,000 for 3-year-old pacing fillies Saturday night (July 4) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 1:50.4.
The race was heated from the start as The Show Returns gunned to the lead from post nine for driver Tim Tetrick. Favored Stacia Hanover (Scott Zeron) cleared to the lead in a first quarter in :26, with the outer flow setting up going to the half. Bettor Be Steppin wasn’t a part of that forward flow, however, as she was shuffled back to last. According to her connections, stablemate Divine Caroline (David Miller) was getting the better trip
“At the half I thought we were dead,” said trainer. “She was fourth on the rail, fourth or fifth, just totally boxed. Divine Caroline was on the outside, loaded with pace, so I was hoping to see her go. I was trying to watch them both and at the half I thought the only shot I had was Divine Caroline.”
Wicked Little Minx (Brett Miller), a 50-1 longshot, came first-over with Sassa Hanover (Yannick Gingras) third-over through a half in a swift :54.1. They paced through three-quarters in 1:21.4 before the leaders began to struggle and the closers came closing.
Momas Got A Gun (Jim Morrill Jr.) was sitting third on the rail and somehow found room inside. She stuck a head in front before Single Me (Brian Sears) and Bettor Be Steppin came from way out. From the far outside, Bettor Be Steppin stuck a nose in front of Single Me at the wire. Momas Got A Gun finished third by a neck.
The win was the fourth in seven starts this year for Bettor Be Steppin. She paid $33.60 to win. The 1-7 exacta paid $895.60 and the 1-7-6 trifecta paid $10,958.10.
“This was a good horse last year,” said Ted Gewertz, who co-owns the-Two Steppin’ Sally filly with Val D’Or Farms and Rojan Stables. “She was having a little trouble earlier in the year. [2014 Horse of the Year] JK She’salady didn’t make the final, so that helped.”