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Mel Mara is primed to take on Wiggle It Jiggleit in Quillen Memorial
Friday, September 16, 2016 - by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

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Kim French
Columbus, OH --- While all eyes while undoubtedly be upon Wiggle It Jiggleit as he returns to Harrington Raceway on Monday (Sept. 19), there are seven other horses in the $150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial that he will have to contend with. One of those rivals is none other than Mel Mara, who enters this contest after setting a track record of 1:50.1 over this very same oval on Sept. 12.

“We are ready,” said co-owner Robert Cooper. “Obviously the post position (eight) is not ideal and will make his job harder, but we really liked his last race. Corey (Callahan, his driver) said he was well within himself and he did not even realize how fast he was going. We could not be coming into the race any better.”

Now age 7, Mel Mara, who is also owned by J&T Silva Stables and conditioned by Dylan Davis, snatched headlines earlier this year when he defeated Always B Miki in a world record equaling 1:47 mile at the Meadowlands on June 4. After being on the sidelines for more than 18 months, the son of Lis Mara-M L Revrac served notice he was a force to be reckoned with amongst the older pacing ranks.

Fotowon photo
Mel Mara set a Harrington track record of 1:50.1 on Sept. 12.

The stallion has competed admirably in 2016, with a very solid fourth in the $200,000 Dorothy Mullin Invitational at Harrah’s Philadelphia to Wiggle It Jiggleit in 1:47.3 on May 29; a third to Always B Miki in another world record equaling mile (1:47) in his $30,000 Ben Franklin elimination at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on June 25 after setting a sizzling pace; another very strong fourth to Always B Miki in the $500,000 Ben Franklin final the following week in another 1:47 world record equaling effort; and a fifth behind Wiggle It Jiggleit in the $325,000 Dan Patch Invitational on Aug. 12 at Hoosier Park.

However, Mel Mara has yet to finish ahead of his more lauded colleagues in stakes action.

Since his appearance in Indiana, Mel Mara captured a $50,000 Invitational contest at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in a brisk 1:47.2 over Luck Be Withyou, who set the early pace in Always B Miki’s world record equaling effort of 1:47 on Sept. 10 at Scioto Downs in the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial.

Mel Mara also lost by a head to Luck By Withyou over the same Pocono surface on Sept. 3 and then set the track record at Harrington on Sept 12.

His connections have never lost faith in their horse’s ability to garner a statement victory over Always B Miki or Wiggle It Jiggleit. That is why they supplemented him to both the Ben Franklin and the Dan Patch Invitational. They felt their horse deserved every opportunity to demonstrate his class and speed.

“Nothing worked out right for us when we went to Indiana,” Cooper said. “It was really hot in the detention barn, not that it wasn’t for all the horses there, but then he did not like the open paddock there. He was screaming and we had to move him all the way down to the end because he could see all the other horses going by on the racetrack. Also, we could not get him to empty his bladder and he just did not seem to like the surface. It was just one of those races where things did not go his way.”

Unfortunately, like throughout most of his career, Mel Mara has encountered some less than favorable circumstances. As a 2- and 3-year-old the stallion had to take on the likes of Sweet Lou, Warrawee Needy, A Rocknroll Dance, Bolt The Duer and Hurrikane Kingcole. Many felt that class of horse flesh was one of the most stellar groups assembled in decades, if not in the history of the sport.

Now Mel Mara must pace against Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki, who have been absolutely outstanding all season long, and nearly every mile they pace has the potential to become a world record. Throw in Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete, the always consistent All Bets Off, U.S. Pacing Championship winner Shamballa, a resurgent Luck Be Withyou and talented Rockin Ron and the division is scintillating.

Not only will Mel Mara have to best Wiggle It Jiggleit, who leaves from the rail in this installment of the Quillen Memorial, he will have to outpace the swift Luck Be Withyou (post four) and the ever dangerous Rockin Ron (post six).

“He likes the paddock and track at Harrington,” Cooper said. “He’s coming into the race sound and happy. We know having the eight hole here definitely makes it tough, but we think Mel is just as fast as any horse out there. We think that track record was the perfect prep race for him and sets him up for this. He needs to race and he needs to race against this group of horses to show he belongs right there with them.”

His connections plan on placing Mel Mara in the very same company immediately following his appearance at Harrington.

“We are almost positive we are going to supplement him to the Dayton Pacing Derby,” Cooper said. “I don’t think we’ll go back out to Indiana because that’s not the best fit for him and then we will see what comes next. I’m not sure if we would have to supplement to race him in the Breeders Crown. Then we plan on racing him next year as long as he is healthy.

We are running out of races this year for him to show how talented he is and that he does have the ability to be right there with Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki. We are just looking forward to Monday to see exactly what he will do out there. We are ready.”

$150,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial
FFA pacers
Race 10 – Post time 7:33 p.m. (EDT)

1. Wiggle It Jiggleit-Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis-7/5
2. Mcardles Lightning-David Miller-Steve Elliott-12/1
3. Mach It So-Tim Tetrick-Jeffrey Bamond Jr.-9/1
4. Luck Be Withyou-Eric Goodell-Chris Oakes-5/2
5. Americanprimetime-Anthony Morgan-Rick Dane Jr.-12/1
6. Rockin Ron-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-20/1
7. Keystone Velocity-Andrew McCarthy-Michael Hall-25/1
8. Mel Mara-Corey Callahan-Dylan Davis-6/1

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