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Saturday, August 8, 2015

As the Monkees sang it, "I'm a believer" ...

by Peter Lawreece, VFTRG Contributor 

From the better late than never department, a few thoughts about the July 18 Meadowlands Pace and its 1:47-4/5 winner, Wiggle It Jiggleit.

He's very, very good. In fact, he has the look of eagles, and could be - COULD BE - an all-time great 3YO pacer.

But before getting carried away and awarding him Horse of the Year - I still consider FFA trotting mare Bee A Magician the nation's top standardbred at this point - Wiggle It Jiggleit is really showing me something.

Let's set that evening's stage.

As the Meadowlands Pace field assembled, the big four, in my estimation, were Wakizashi Hanover (winner of the North America Cup at Mohawk), In The Arsenal (winner of the Art Rooney at Yonkers), Artspeak (last year's freshman divisional champion) and Wiggle It Jiggleit (winner of the Max Hempt at Pocono).

As is generally known, the Wiggler started early this season, easily breezed through some springtime M'lands sophomore tune-ups, and won an Indiana Sire Stake at Hoosier Park over a nice horse named Freaky Feet Pete after having uncorked a freaky 1:49 overnight victory at the Harrington, Delaware HALF-MILE TRACK.

His true arrival, to these eyes, was, ironically, his first career defeat, an excellent second-place finish to Wakizashi Hanover in the NAC.

Then it was a win in the Max Hempt at Pocono, over "grade one" competition, and the Meadowlands Pace score.

(Of note, joining the big four as a fifth is M'lands Pace runner-up Dude's The Man, who followed that big effort with a win in the recent Adios at The Meadows.)

Next up for Wiggle It Jiggleit is this week's Cane Pace at the M'lands - Cane Pace at Meadowlands? Yup - on Hambletonian Day.

All the divisional heavyweights, with the exception of Wakizashi Hanover, will be there.

No wiggling around, and no Monkee business, but it could be a step closer to immortality for Wiggle It Jiggleit, if he wins on the closely watched - by everyone in the harness sport - Hambletonian Day card.

Notes ... Wiggle It Jiggleit is owned by George Teague Jr. Inc. of Delaware, officially trained by Teague sideman Clyde Francis, and is capably driven by George's son, Montrell Teague. Co-breeder is former trainer-driver Jimmy Bernstein, once a mainstay at Monticello Raceway in the 1970s.

Wiggle It Jiggleit is a GELDING. If he survives the jump from 3YO to 4YO competition, and beyond that in susequent seasons, we could be seeing him on the racetrack for years to come.

Pictured below these words are several paddock-eye photos from Meadowlands Pace night.
One is Wiggle It Jiggleit, before the race, with groom "Big Mike" Taylor. Mike didn't come away with that nickname for no reason, by the way.

The next shot is Mike, who, post-race, seemed to have traded his horse for a soapy harness.

Next, retired driver Catello Manzi led the colts to post in a high-wheeled sulky. Hard to believe those things were once used in real competion.

Montrell steers the M'lands Pace winner to the wire, in a shot taken off a paddock TV monitor.

George and Montrell celebrate in the winners circle with track chairman Jeff Gural.

Finally, Montrell is interviewed by TV guy extraordinaire Robert Michael Heyden, aka Hollywood Bob.

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