by Ellen Harvey
They all had a clear shot at him, but none of the nine other pacers in the $706,000 Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds could get past Wiggle It Jiggleit, as his 24-year-old driver Montrell Teague gave a fist pump and won by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:47.4 on Saturday night (July 18) at The Meadowlands.
Wiggle It Jiggleit is owned by Montrell’s father, George Teague Jr. and is trained by Clyde Francis. Montrell is the youngest driver ever to win the classic race.
The son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover started his season at The Meadowlands in the dead of the winter of 2015, racing in series and taking each in stride with progressively stronger performances. For the season, Wiggle It Jiggleit has now won 14 of 15 starts, with earnings of $978,742. His lone loss was a second place finish to Wakizashi Hanover in the North America Cup.
The younger Teague wasted no time looking for the lead as he put his horse on top just past the :26.1 quarter-mile mark. Wakizashi Hanover (Tim Tetrick), wearing four new aluminum shoes, was right out to challenge down the backstretch, with In The Arsenal (Brian Sears) tucked in along the rail. They paced to the half-mile station in :54.2.
From the five-eighths on, it was Wiggle It Jiggleit facing off on the inside with a persistent Wakizashi Hanover on his outside. The three-quarters went in 1:21.3.
Wakizashi Hanover kept at his wheel all the way down the stretch, only losing contact with about an eighth to go. Dude’s The Man (Corey Callahan) ranged up on the outside to get past Wakizashi Hanover for the second place money in the final strides while Montrell Teague had Wiggle It Jiggleit on cruise control to the wire in 1:47.4.
“Couldn’t be happier,” said George Teague Jr., who also trained and co-owned Wiggle It Jiggleit’s sire, Mr Wiggles. “This is pretty exciting, for me, anyway. I liked the way he got to the front. Once he cleared I felt pretty confident, really. I couldn’t be prouder of my son, Montrell. He speaks for himself. He’s doing a great job for the horse, as much as the horse is doing for him. This is what every one dreams of in this business and I own him, too, it’s not a bad deal.”
“I got stung to the quarter (in :26.1) but I thought we were going :25,” said Montrell Teague. “I would have thought we were going :25 or :26, but I backed it down as much as I could and kept on backing it down. I knew he (Wakizashi Hanover and Tim Tetrick) was going to come very, very early. I thought I was still confident at the three-quarters. We only went in (1):21 or something like that. I didn’t even look at the teletimer when I passed it and it was (1):47.4. Every week I look forward to driving him and he keeps me tuned in to how good he is.”
Asked if Wiggle It Jiggleit might be supplemented to the Cane Pace (at The Meadowlands on Aug. 8, Hambletonian Day), Teague deferred to his father.
“That’s up to dad, he does all that work. Wherever he goes, I’m going. He’s the best horse I’ve ever driven. To drive for dad and have all my family here, it’s unbelievable. When you look at a horse like that, going (1):48 and (1):49 every week, you’ve got to respect him.”