by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
Nichols, N.Y. -- Four-year-old superstars Wiggle It Jiggleit and Pinkman head a star-studded 15-race card on Sunday (June 12) afternoon at Tioga Downs, with the third preliminary leg of the Graduate Series and New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing fillies sharing the spotlight.
In the $75,000 eighth race, a Graduate event for pacers, double millionaire Wiggle It Jiggleit squares off against ten other 4-year-olds. The gelded son of Mr Wiggles arrives following impressive victories in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield (1:49.4) and the Dorothy Mullin Invitational at Harrah's Philadelphia (1:47.3). Montrell Teague handles the driving duties for trainer Clyde Francis.
"I think he'll handle the Tioga track fine," said Teague. "The biggest disadvantage will be the 11-horse field, and the two trailers will try to keep position up close. You can almost bet that Rockin Ron's going to leave."
A rematch off the Confederation Cup showdown went to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Mullin, and Teague remains confident heading to this rubber match following the reigning Horse of the Year's effort at Philadelphia. "I didn't want to give Rockin Ron any advantage [at Philadelphia]. I pulled early and got right beside Rockin Ron. On the turn, I tried to stay as close as possible to save some ground; then I started driving on him and he went on."
Wiggle It Jiggleit will start from post 4 as the 4-5 morning line favorite.
Rockin Ron, who looks to avenge his recent defeat, headlines a three-horse entry trained by Ron Burke and Kelvin Harrison. The 19-time winner drew post two in the overflow field, and Yannick Gingras will be in to drive.
One race later, in the $75,000 Graduate preliminary for trotters, Gingras will drive last year's Hambletonian winner Pinkman for trainer Jimmy Takter. The 18-time winner returns from Solvalla Racecourse in Stockholm, where he wired fellow 4-year-olds in 1:52.2 on the Elitloppet undercard. Pinkman will start from post 6 as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Among the seven foes Pinkman will face is Musical Rhythm, a winner in his Graduate event at Mohawk last weekend. Following a sweep of the Don Mills series in April, the 19-time winner has risen to top-tier competition with aplomb, also drawing off in a Preferred event at Mohawk. Benoit Ballairgeon trains the Cantab Hall entire, and Hall-of-Fame driver John Campbell will be aboard from post 1.
A pair of $62,400 New York Sire Stakes events for 3-year-old pacing fillies are carded as races 6 and 11, with a quintet of Burke trainees leading the group of 18 sophomores. Dime a Dance (Matt Kakaley) leads a 2-1 favored entry in race 6 as the only Sire Stakes winner thus far this year in the group, while Chris Ryder trainee Time On My Hands (Jason Bartlett) and Linda Toscano trainee Soft Idea (Jim Morrill, Jr.) will look to upend the Burke trio in race 11.
Post time for Sunday's stakes program is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.