Delaware, OH --- There was no denying Wiggle It Jiggleit.
Seemingly beaten in mid-stretch, Wiggle It Jiggleit and driver Montrell Teague fought back in the final strides to win Thursday’s (Sept. 24) $677,000 Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers by a nose over Lost For Words in 1:49.3 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Wiggle It Jiggleit got up in the final strides to win the Little Brown Jug.|
The closing moments of the Jug capped an epic duel between the event’s first-heat winners. Lost For Words, who got a quick lead and inside position in the decisive second heat, and Wiggle It Jiggleit raced side-by-side for nearly five-eighths of a mile in the one-mile race.
Lost For Words appeared to be on his way to victory as the horses came off the final turn, opening up by more than one length on Wiggle It Jiggleit, but Wiggle It Jiggleit dug in and nipped Lost For Words at the wire.
My Hero Ron finished third and Arque Hanover was fourth.
It was the first Little Brown Jug victory for “Team Teague,” which is owner George Teague Jr., his son Montrell, and trainer Clyde Francis. The 24-year-old Montrell became the second-youngest driver in history to win the Jug.
"I'm not nervous anymore, that's for sure," said Montrell Teague. "I don't know how he came back and beat the other horse. He raced so well, but like I said he is a tremendous animal. He's just special and does not want to lose. He just digs down deep within himself and always finds something more."
Wiggle It Jiggleit is a son of stallion Mr Wiggles out of the mare Mozzi Hanover. George Teague owns both horses and raced both horses during their careers on the track. Mr Wiggles won the 2009 Hoosier Cup and finished second in the Breeders Crown and Adios. He finished sixth in the 2009 Little Brown Jug.
Wiggle It Jiggleit, the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing’s weekly poll, has won 18 of 20 races this year and pushed his seasonal earnings to $1.76 million with his victory in the Little Brown Jug brought to you by Fazoli’s.
Wiggle It Jiggleit's other victories this year include the Meadowlands Pace, Hempt Memorial, Battle of the Brandywine, and Milstein Memorial. He was not staked to the Little Brown Jug, but his victory in the Meadowlands Pace permitted his connections to pay $45,000 to supplement to the event. He became the first of five supplemental entries to win the Little Brown Jug since supplements were introduced in 1999.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Wiggle It Jiggleit enters the winner's circle after capturing the Little Brown Jug.|
Earlier in the day, Wiggle It Jiggleit defeated Artspeak with a sustained first-over battle in his first heat, stopping the clock in a track-record 1:49.2 for a 3-year-old gelding pacer.
In the second heat, Lost For Words and driver David Miller went to the front and led the field to the quarter in :27. My Hero Ron was second, followed by Wiggle It Jiggleit, but Montrell Teague made his move with Wiggle It Jiggleit as Lost For Words brought the group around the second turn.
From there, the race was on. Lost For Words and Wiggle It Jiggleit were matching strides when they hit the half in :54.1 and three-quarters in 1:21.1.
The battle continued around the final turn, setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
"I thought he was beat," said George Teague. "I even dropped my eyes down because I didn't want to watch anymore, but then I was told he was coming back. I still cannot believe he won today.
"I've trained a lot of horses but I have never seen one like him. He is actually much better with a target and why we have always wanted to race him from off the pace. It's like he thrives on it.
"We will take him to Hoosier next. They actually wanted us to come there this weekend but this was the one I really wanted to win. He's an Indiana bred and they have been so nice about wanting us to come there. Now that he has done this it's time to go back."
Only seven horses participated in the Little Brown Jug second heat after Split The House, who finished fourth in his first-round elimination, was scratched.
Wiggle It Jiggleit and Lost For Words capture eliminations
Wiggle It Jiggleit and Artspeak went toe-to-toe for much of the final half-mile of Thursday’s second $108,320 opening-round elimination of the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and in the end Wiggle It Jiggleit pulled away for a track-record 1:49.2 victory.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Wiggle It Jiggleit won his Jug elimination in a time of 1:49.2.|
Artspeak finished second followed by My Hero Ron and Arque Hanover as the top four finishers advanced to the Jug’s second heat.
Artspeak was able to take advantage of his inside starting spot, post one, to get the lead going into the first turn. Wiggle It Jiggle and driver Montrell Teague were content to sit in third place behind My Hero Ron as the field made its way up the backstretch for the first time on the half-mile oval, but began a first-over march prior to the half.
Scott Zeron and Artspeak remained in front at the midway point, reached in :54.3, but the battle was just beginning. Wiggle It Jiggleit was able to pull in front by the time the leaders hit three-quarters in 1:21, but Artspeak fought back on the final turn to draw on even terms with his rival. Wiggle It Jiggleit pulled away in the stretch, though, to win by 1-1/4 lengths and equal Rock N Roll Heaven’s stakes record of 1:49.2.
The time set the track record for a gelding pacer, erasing Lucan Hanover’s mark of 1:49.4 set in 2013.
"This horse has an incredible amount of spunk," said driver Montrell Teague. "To have a homebred be this kind of horse is something you never could imagine.
"I don't think there is another horse that could come first over like that on a half-mile track in 1:49.2. I did not know how fast I was going and was just worried about not hooking wheels. I'm still shaking but I don't have time to be nervous because I have to do it once more."
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Lost For Words won his Jug elimination in 1:50.2.|
Lost For Words won the first of Thursday’s two $108,320 opening-round eliminations of the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old male pacers, defeating Yankee Bounty by 1-1/2 lengths in 1:50.2 at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Rockin In Heaven finished third and Split The House was fourth.
Lost For Words, the 1-2 favorite, went to the front from post one, but yielded the lead to Yankee Bounty as the field made its way through the first turn. Driver David Miller, though, fired Lost For Words back to the top prior to reaching the quarter in :27. He received pressure from Dude’s The Man on the outside at the half, timed in :55.3, but rebuffed the challenge and was unthreatened the rest of the way.
A son of 2009 Little Brown Jug winner Well Said out of the mare Thou Shalt Not, Lost For Words is trained by Brian Brown and owned by Country Club Acres, William Robinson, Richard Lombardo, and Strollin Stable.
Lost For Words’ first-heat victory gave the colt five wins in 12 races this year.
"He was just so good last week and has been so good since the Adios," said Brown. "The only thing I was worried about were the fractions because I did not want him to have to go as fast as he did last week.
"But you have to give David so much credit. He was so patient and was cool as a cucumber out there. He allowed Yannick (Gingras with Yankee Bounty) to go and let him cross over and then just waited and waited to make his move. He gets along so well with this horse. I just can't say it enough."
-- Kimberly French contributed to this report