Reigning U.S. Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit ($2.60) proved too much for his 10 four-year-old pacing rivals in Sunday (June 12) afternoon's $75,000 Graduate preliminary at Tioga Downs, drawing clear authoritatively after setting a strong pace.
The four-year-old Mr Wiggles gelding not only endured early pressure from Rockin Ron (Yannick Gingras) through a :25.4 first quarter, but also a broken buxton in the initial stages of the race. Nonetheless, he dictated all the terms, rating a :55.3 middle half before edging clear of first-over challenger In The Arsenal (Brett Miller) on the far turn. Now a 30-time winner, Wiggle It Jiggleit amassed five and a half lengths clearance over the others in the end, and his 1:48.1 mile equalled Rockeyed Optimist's track record for four-year-old pacing geldings.
In The Arsenal held second, Rockin In Heaven (David Miller) rallied mildly to save third off a tracking trip, and Rockin Ron faded to fourth after forcing the early pace.
Clyde Francis trains Wiggle It Jiggleit for owners George Teague Jr. and the Teague Racing Partnership.
In the $75,000 Graduate Trot, Maestro Blue Chip ($15.40) lasted on the lead, parrying a stern first-over threat from Musical Rhythm (John Campbell) through the middle half and just holding sway from a surging Whataworkout (Scott Zeron) for a 1:53.4 victory. Tim Tetrick drove the four-year-old Credit Winner entire for owner Richard Poillucci and trainer JoAnn Looney-King. Pinkman (Gingras), the 2015 Hambletonian winner, could not escape the pocket, narrowly beaten for third by Crazshana (David Miller) while lacking for racing room the entirety of the stretch.
Angels Rockin Pink, a daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven and Miss Liz, turned aside a first-over push from Dime A Dance for a 1:52.1 win under Mark MacDonald for trainer Chris Oakes.
Time On My Hands also repelled a third-quarter challenge, but later would have to outlast a late push from American Ivy (Andy Miller), who vacated the pocket in upper stretch. Jason Bartlett drove the daughter of American Ideal and Bewitching Jewell to a 1:53.2 victory for trainer Chris Ryder.
A pair of Open events on the card were won by the Steve Elliott-trained pacer Rockeyed Optimist ($2.90) and Brett Miller in 1:50.2, and trotter Dragin The Wagon ($20.40) in 1:56.2 for Aaron and Jeffrey Byron.
The annual Tioga Downs Scholarship Race, a non-wagering exhibition sponsored by the Harness Horse Breeders of New York State and the Southern Tier Harness Horsemen's Association, went to the Tompkins Cortland Community College-bound Alexis Eaton, teaming up with trainer Mike Deters in a two-seated jog cart behind Prairie Jaguar in the five-eighth-mile race.
(with files from Tioga Downs)