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Say Hey, It's Wiggle It Jiggleit

Published: September 8, 2016 5:41 pm ET

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Ted Kluszewski once said, “I’m not sure what the hell charisma is, but I get the feeling it’s Willie Mays.” Kluszewski, a star for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1940s and ’50s, never got to see Wiggle It Jiggleit, but one gets the feeling he could have uttered the aforementioned statement about harness racing’s main attraction.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who races in Saturday’s $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial for older pacers at Eldorado Scioto Downs in central Ohio, has become a fan favourite over the past two years as he’s traveled North America and won 35 of 46 races along the way. He has finished worse than third only once in his career -- and that was a fourth-place finish.

He was the Dan Patch Award U.S. Horse of the Year in 2015 and is the No. 1-ranked horse in the sport’s current Top 10 poll. This season, the four-year-old Wiggle It Jiggleit has won 12 of 19 races and earned more than $1.3 million. He has earned more than $3.6 million lifetime, good for seventh place among all North American pacers in history. None of the six pacers ahead of him have fewer than 85 career races.

Social media posts regarding Wiggle It Jiggleit routinely generate two to three times more interaction than any other topics in harness racing. And fans delight in cheering him on, whether in person or from afar. They also enjoy his winner’s circle antics, rearing up on his hind legs rather than standing patiently for a photo.

“He’s a lot of fun,” said Montrell Teague, the 25-year-old son of co-owner George Teague Jr. and regular driver of Wiggle It Jiggleit. “I get to travel around with him and meet new people and every single time I talk to new people it’s all positive about him.

“Everybody loves him. They relate to him and follow him around. When he goes to the winner’s circle, they always look for him to go up in the air. He’s just got a lot of personality and the way he races, he always puts on a good show.”

If one race cemented Wiggle It Jiggleit’s status among fans, it was last September’s Little Brown Jug final at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Ohio. Wiggle It Jiggleit, who raced on the outside for most of the mile, appeared to be beaten in the stretch only to rally with a final surge and win by a nose.

“I had a guy come up to me a few days later at (Harrah’s Philadelphia) and he said ‘I’ve been watching harness racing for 50 years and I want to say thank you for giving me the thrill of my lifetime, to watch the best race I’ve ever seen.’ I never would have expected that,” Teague said.

“The Jug, everyone always talks about that race, and pretty much every race after that. He’s always making conversation.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who is based in Harrington, Del., with the popular Teague family and trainer Clyde Francis, will be making his first visit to Scioto Downs. It will be the 15th different track at which Wiggle It Jiggleit has raced lifetime and it will be his sixth consecutive start at a different racetrack, following races in New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Quebec, and Ontario. The gelding has won races at 12 different tracks during his career.

“A lot of horses can’t travel around like that and still race good,” Teague said. “He’s the exception. I’ve never seen it done. It hasn’t bothered him yet. Harrington is his home, but we’ve only raced him there once. It seems like everywhere has been his home track. When people know he is racing at their track, they try to make it out there to see him live.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who is easy to spot on the racetrack because of his large white shadow roll, heads to the Ewart Memorial off a win in last weekend’s Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack. Wiggle It Jiggleit won in gate-to-wire fashion, hitting the opening quarter-mile in :25.3 and turning back all challengers from there. He won by 1-3/4 lengths over Always B Miki in 1:49.

“It was one of the strongest times I’ve seen him,” Teague said. “When he came off the gate, I looked to see who was going to challenge and I didn’t see anyone out there; I was leaving that fast. I didn’t know I was going that fast. I thought I was going to go :27 to the quarter and I wound up going :25.3. It’s just unbelievable how easily he does it, so swift and effortlessly.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit will start the Ewart Memorial from post eight and is the 8-5 morning line favourite. Always B Miki is the 9-5 second choice, leaving from post six with Brett Miller listed to drive for trainer Jimmy Takter.

$225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial - Race 9 - Post 9:10 p.m. (EDT)
PP–Horse–Driver–Trainer - Line
1. Rockeyed Optimist – Chris Page – Steve Elliott – 20/1
2. All Bets Off – Matt Kakaley – Ron Burke – 8/1
3. Artistic Major – Aaron Merriman – Steve Elliott – 20/1
4. Dealt A Winner – Peter Wrenn – Mark Silva – 10/1
5. Luck Be Withyou – Eric Goodell – Chris Oakes – 15/1
6. Always B Miki – Brett Miller – Jimmy Takter – 9/5
7. Americanprimetime – Josh Sutton – Rick Dane Jr. – 20/1
8. Wiggle It Jiggleit – Montrell Teague – Clyde Francis – 8/5
9. Freaky Feet Pete – Trace Tetrick – Larry Rheinheimer – 9/2

Saturday’s card at Scioto Downs also includes the $100,000 Chip Noble Memorial for older trotters.

$100,000 Chip Noble Memorial - Race 5 - Post 7:50 p.m. (EDT)
PP–Horse–Driver–Trainer - Line
1. Wings Of Royalty - Peter Wrenn - George Ducharme - 9/2
2. Maestro Blue Chip - Trace Tetrick - Jo Ann Looney-King - 3/1
3. Bourbon Bay - Aaron Merriman - Ake Svanstedt - 10/1
4. Wind Of The North - Chris Page - Daryl Bier - 8/1
5. Muscle Up The Goal - Aaron Merriman - Chris Beaver - 4/1
6. Homicide Hunter - Eric Goodell - Chris Oakes - 5/2
7. Crazy Wow - Matt Kakaley - Ron Burke - 5/1


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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