by Mike Sardella
It was no pace through the park for reigning National Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit (Mr Wiggles), but the 4-year-old world champion prevailed in his first sojourn to Saratoga Casino Hotel on Saturday (July 23) night in the 8th annual $260,000 Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace.
|Melissa Simser-Iovino photo|
|Wiggle It Jiggleit and Montrell Teague cross the wire in the Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial Pace at Saratoga.|
Driver Montrell Teague blasted the superstar pacer and 1-9 favorite out early, but the rest of field had other ideas when it came to allowing the gelding to assume early control. In fact, Bit Of A Legend N and All Bets Off were intent on upon denying Wiggle It Jiggleit to have things his own way and parked him out three-wide through a stiff first quarter-mile in :26.3. Teague then decided to send the geldingalongside leader All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) and clear for the lead in a half of :54.4.
After stealing a third quarter breather, Wiggle It Jiggleit sprinted away in a :27.1 final panel to win by two lengths in 1:51, with his tail swishing after feeling the sting of Teague’s whip.
Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) closed quickly up the rail and won the photo for place with All Bets Off earning the show spot.
Although the track record was not ever in jeopardy on Saturday night, the fans who came out in full force to see the harness racing superstar roared in appreciation as the equine sensation made his way back for the winner’s circle presentation. The crowd also cheered unabashedly for the horse when he came out on the track to engage in battle with his rivals.
It was victory number ten in 15 starts this year for Wiggle It Jiggleit who is owned by George Teague Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC, and trained by Clyde Francis.
There was over $600,000 in purse money battled for on the evening’s 14-race card at the Spa as the facility also hosted two New York Sire Stakes divisions for 3-year-old pacing colts and geldings worth $91,550 and $89,950 respectively.
In the first division, which was the second race on the card, Roll Away Joe (Jim Morrill Jr.) turned in a wire-to-wire performance for conditioner Tracy Brainard and owners Howard Taylor, Stephen Demeter and Thomas Lazzaro to up his win total for this season to three. The son ofRoll With Joe paid $3.00 for his efforts and established a new lifetime speed badge of 1:51.4 with the victory.
Artmagic and Bottom Deals showed and placed to contribute to a $25.40 trifecta pay-off.
The evening’s fourth race, and the second NYSS division, saw Ideal Son in the winner’s circle rather than the prohibitive favorite Missile J. The son of American Ideal, who provided Morrill Jr. with triumphs both Empire State events, led at every call while Missile J (Tim Tetrick) never seemed extremely comfortable over the upstate New York surface.
Conditioned by Tom Fanning, Ideal Son, owned by Howard Taylor, paid his backers $10.80 while Manny and Fine Diamond rounded out a trifecta that afforded $393.50
Live racing resumes on Tuesday (July 24) night as the summer schedule is in full swing with racing every Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 7:05 p.m. each evening.