BY FRANK DRUCKER, Publicity Director, Empire City @ Yonkers Raceway
YONKERS, NY, Saturday, October 15, 2016—The post position gods made it difficult for Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague, $2.80).
The opposition did not.
Harness racing’s richest horse of 2016 had it easier than expected Saturday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway’s $250,000 Invitational Pace.
Everything, save for the draw, worked out splendidly.
First, there was an inside scratch, moving WIJI in one notch from behind the eight-ball.
Second, in a race packed with early foot, everyone else deferred. Wiggle It Jiggleit snapped off the wings, made an immediate lead and rendered the result a given.
WIJI found his way around pole-sitting Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton), then negotiated his work day (:27.3, :55.4, 1:23.1, 1:50.2) with no issues whatsoever. So much for a shot at the Raceway’s first ever sub-1:50 mile.
It was Keystone Velocity (Brian Sears), who figured to be in the early fray, trying it first-up…from fifth. That one never mounted a challenge as Wiggle It Jiggleit took a length-and-a-half lead into the lane.
The final margin over a chasing Bit of a Legend N was a length-and-three quarters, with Mel Mara (Corey Callahan)—another non-leaver—All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) and Melmerby Beach (Dan Dube) settling for the minors.
For WIJI, a 4-year-old Mr. Wiggles gelding trained by Clyde Francis for co-owners George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership, it was his 15th win in 23 seasonal starts ($1,624,337, career 38-for-50, over $3.8 million).
The exacta paid $8.20, the triple returned $33.60 and the superfecta paid $54.50.
“I was surprised as anyone to no one left out of there,” Montrell Teague said. “He was on the bit and ready, so I let him go. It was a better trip than I could have ever imagined.
“Someone asked me going in what my strategy was, and I said I had idea, just see how the race unfolded.”
It unfolded right in his lap.
As far as buying into the Breeders Crown, “Dad and I have talked about it, but we’re not going to tip our hand yet.”