by Allison Conte
“I don’t think it’s really set in yet,” Montrell Teague says on his 2015 season with Wiggle It Jiggleit. The son of Mr. Wiggles and the son of owner George Teague, Jr teamed up this year for over $2 million in earnings and a number of huge race wins. “You always look at Tetrick and Yannick and all of them,… watch them on TV and always hope to have one like this, and I’ve finally got mine.”
Wiggle It Jiggleit was relatively unknown entering this season, racing only once in 2014 because of soreness, but Team Teague captured the public’s imagination throughout 2015 with big wins in the Hap Hansen Progress Pace, Milstein Memorial, Meadowlands Pace and of course the Little Brown Jug. He “put on a show that no other horse has ever done. I mean he goes 49, 48, 47 every week, week in and week out and his overall appearance” says Teague.
The back and forth battle with Freaky Feet Pete through races like the Indiana Sires Stakes Super Final also added another layer to excitement for fans. The duo raced almost every month this year and “to do that in January and then all the way through November, almost a whole year of going 49 and better, it’s unbelievable.”
After a couple of bad years and no standout star, the Teague stable had their prayers answered when they bred Mr. Wiggles to Mozzi Hanover. In his 2 year old season, he raced just once but after coming first in 1:52 Montrell called his dad and said “We’ve got something great.” He was shut down for the winter after getting colt sore, so the anticipation built through the off season.
“In the first part of the year I was always worried about taking him back and having to find cover or come first up. I’m a little bit more controlled on having to come first up if I have to instead of going 25 the first quarter and turning and burning him, going 100 the whole time on the front.” That confidence growing through the year in his partner helped Montrell weather the negativity from some in the grandstand and the press box. Despite big wins, people would nitpick the young driver on when he would make his moves, say Wiggle It Jiggleit was overrated after a loss or other comments. “It just went in one ear and out the other I didn’t even pay attention to it. Me and the horse, we do our own thing” says Montrell.
“The whole family’s been travelling with us everywhere, so we’ve always had support everywhere we went.” Seeing the #TeamTeague hashtag grow, the Wiggle It Jiggleit tributes online and the fans calling out for a whip or autograph at the rail also kept bringing a smile to Montrell’s face.
Most negative comments disappeared though after the Little Brown Jug finals. Announcers and fans alike started instantly comparing it to the 1993 race with Life Sign. “People still come up to me and shake my hand and say, ‘Thanks for giving me the opportunity to watch the best horse I’ve ever seen,’ or, ‘That was the best race I’ve ever seen,’ everything like that” says Montrell.
What’s it like driving behind Wiggle It Jiggleit? “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
“He can’t disappoint me. Whatever he does from now until he stops racing it doesn’t matter to me. He’s still going to be labeled as the best horse ever in my book, and I think in other people’s books also.”