More Honours For 'Team Teague'

Published: December 22, 2016 09:54 am EST

The honours and awards keep coming for the connections of Wiggle It Jiggleit, who on Tuesday was named as an O'Brien Award finalist. On Thursday (Dec. 22), the group behind the pacing superstar was honoured for its outstanding contributions to the sport.

Team Teague, a group of horsepeople based in Harrington, Del. who have been masterful in both their care and campaigning of the charismatic $4-million-winning pacer Wiggle It Jiggleit over the last two years, has won the top honour that the United States Harness Writers Association (USHWA) solely votes on –- the Stan Bergstein Proximity Award, “presented annually to those who have made outstanding contributions to harness racing.”

The team 'captain’ is of course owner/trainer George Teague Jr., “defending” Owner of the Year, through whom the major decisions are made, but George would be the first to credit the many many others who have been integral parts of the success of Wiggle It Jiggleit, 2015 U.S. Horse of the Year and second in this year’s voting, and indeed all the way back to 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue and beyond. These folks would include George’s sister Brenda, his “right-hand man” for many years and an outstanding horsewoman in her own right; his stable’s owners, many of them from his home base of Delaware; and Jim Bernstein, a former horseman turned successful businessman, who helps keep Team Teague on sound financial footing.

There is George’s son Montrell, last year’s Rising Star Award winner, who has shown both ability and 'cool' in the sulky well beyond his 25 years, and who in his intelligence, horsemanship, and enthusiasm has become as public a standardbearer of Team Teague as anybody.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, winning the 2016 Canadian Pacing Derby

There is the veteran Clyde Francis, who oversees the day-to-day care of Wiggle It Jiggleit and “Big Mike” Taylor, honoured as 2015’s Caretaker of the Year, who has developed a rapport with his charge while also keeping his respect -- many a chaotic winners circle, definitely NOT the pacer's favourite place to go, has been avoided by Mike’s patient yet firm handling of the horse just after the races. Add in other stable employees and front office workers, and you have a group of individuals who have all had a part in the success of a horse who has commanded a major portion of the harness racing spotlight for two full seasons now: Team Teague has indeed made “an outstanding contribution” to the sulky sport.


Besides voting to put Team Teague on the final ballot for the prestigious Bergstein/Proximity Award (and then picking the Team to win the award), George Teague Jr. himself was selected by the chapters of USHWA for individual recognition as the organization’s Good Guy Award winner, for outstanding cooperation with the media and in helping to showcase the sport. And George was voted the Good Guy Award winner as well -– making him the first two-time winner of the Good Guy Award in the 53-year history of the honour (he also won in 2004, the year Rainbow Blue won Horse of the Year honours on both sides of the border).

One example given of George’s desire to serve and better harness racing came when he was asked to bring Wiggle It Jiggleit, last year’s Little Brown Jug winner, to the Delaware County Fair to make an appearance this season -– in the middle of a grueling racing campaign. But Teague oversaw the preparations to get the horse to central Ohio for Jug Day, and WIJI led the post parade for the Triple Crown pacing event. (An irony here: Wiggle It Jiggleit won the 2015 Jug with a stirring stretch surge that edged out Lost For Words – who was trained by Brian Brown, the Ohio-based conditioner who finished second to Teague in this year’s Good Guy voting!)

Team Teague and George Teague Jr. will be honoured at the “Night Of Champions,” the Dan Patch Awards Banquet Presented by Hoosier Park, which will take place on Sunday, February 26 at the Planet Hollywood hotel/casino in Las Vegas.

(with files from USHWA)



Classiest team in racing today. Great ambassadors for the sport.

Congrats to team Teague. They are all great people and certainly are great for the sport. Very deserving!

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