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Wiggle It Jiggleit Captivates Canada

Published: January 22, 2017 9:55 am ET

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This year's older pacing horse division captivated the world of harness racing and while one of its key players, Wiggle It Jiggleit, made a limited number of starts in Canada, he still managed to steal the hearts of fans in those appearances with his undeniable talent and charisma to earn an O'Brien Award nomination.

Campaigned by the Delaware-based father-son, owner-driver team of George and Montrell Teague along with trainer Clyde Francis, the four-year-old Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover gelding was North America’s leading money-earner in 2016 with more than $1.8 million banked in purses.

Wiggle It Jiggleit and driver Montrell Teague, victorious at Saratoga

Wiggle It Jiggleit drew attention wherever he went, competing against the best horses in the sport week in and week out at 15 different racetracks, including three north of the border. He was victorious in Canada’s oldest stakes event, the Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, and also secured runner-up finishes in Hippodrome 3R's signature Prix d'Été and Flamboro Downs' Confederation Cup.

"At first I was a little surprised [he was nominated] because I know he was only in Canada four times, but remembering he won the Canadian Pacing Derby, I realized why he was a contender," owner George Teague Jr. told Trot Insider leading up to the January 28 Black Tie Gala for the O'Brien Awards, which honour the horses and people who made the greatest contributions to Canadian harness racing.

2016 Canadian Pacing Derby

The Canadian Pacing Derby was one of Wiggle It Jiggleit's three victories against Always B Miki, the fastest horse in the history of the sport, amidst a season-long rivalry that also included fellow Indiana-bred standout Freaky Feet Pete in the mix. Always B Miki was named the 2016 U.S. Horse Of The Year, but only raced in Canada twice coming short of the three-race eligibility requirement for O'Brien consideration.

Following his $2.2 million three-year-old campaign in which he was named the 2015 U.S. Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit had no trouble in stepping up to the older pacing horse division, which is often considered a tough transition. Teague acknowledged that looking back at year-end and reviewing Wiggle it Jiggleit's success as a four-year-old is impressive.

"People say how hard it is for four-year-olds like Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete to compete against aged horses [and] they were able to do some amazing things," said Teague. "The battle between the top three horses, Wiggle It Jiggleit, Freaky Feet Pete, and Always B Miki, was one that myself and many race fans enjoyed."

Wiggle It Jiggleit never finished worse than third in his 24 races during the year leaving him with a long highlight reel, which included 15 wins and a mark of 1:47.2 taken in the Graduate Final at Meadowlands Racetrack. His feats also included the Battle of Lake Erie, Dorothy Mullin Invitational, Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial, Dan Patch Stakes, Bobby Quillen Memorial, Dayton Derby, and Yonkers Invitational.

"[There are] too many to isolate one [standout moment]," said Teague, attributing the pacer's success to the entire team behind his stable. "Even in defeat, every mile Wiggle It Jiggleit raced this season was great. One moment, however, that does stand out was the Dorothy Mullin at Chester, a track not known for speed. Finishing in [1:47.3] was a huge mile and in the fashion he did it was fun to watch. Another favourite of the year was getting the best of Always B Miki in the Canadian Pacing Derby, in one of the most entertaining rivalries in harness racing."

2016 Dorothy Mullin Invitational Pace

The other O'Brien Awards finalist in the older pacing horse category is the Canadian-owned and trained Shamballa, who defeated both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki in a career-best 1:47.1 performance in the U.S. Pacing Championship. The winner will be announced at the annual awards ceremony next weekend at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.

"It's always an enjoyable evening, with the black tie affair definitely making it the classiest awards banquet there is out there, second to none," noted Teague, whose impressive awards resume also includes Canada's 2004 Horse of the Year and Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the Year title courtesy of Rainbow Blue.

For a full list of 2016 O'Brien Award finalists, click here. For details about the Black Tie Gala and how to purchase tickets, click here.

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