Wiggle It Jiggleit named harness racing’s Horse of the Year

Wiggle It Jiggleit made the most of nearly every month on the calendar.

The gelding from Harrington, who on Thursday was named the Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, won his first race of the season in January and continued posting victories through November. In fact, the only month during that span in which he failed to win at least one race was April, when he was given a brief respite before continuing a campaign that concluded Nov. 30 with 22 wins in 26 starts.

Wiggle It Jiggleit shows he still is full of energy in the winner’s circle at Dover Downs Monday night after winning the 10th race. Groom Mike Taylor keeps him under control. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Wiggle It Jiggleit shows he still is full of energy in the winner’s circle at Dover Downs. Groom Mike Taylor keeps him under control. (Special to The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who led all harness racing horses in North America with $2.18 million in purses this season, also was named Pacer of the Year on Thursday and earlier this week was voted best 3-year-old male pacer. Wiggle It Jiggleit received 132 of 136 votes for Pacer of the Year.

In balloting for Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit received 130 of 136 votes. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s 95.5-percent total of the votes for Horse of the Year is the most for any winner since 1980 when Niatross was one vote shy of unanimous.

Wiggle It Jiggleit’s 22 wins this year led all pacers in North America. Prior to Wiggle It Jiggleit, the only pacer to be the season’s winningest pacer and receive Horse of the Year was Cam Fella in 1982.

“He’s just been an incredible horse,” Wiggle It Jiggleit’s owner George Teague Jr., also of Harrington, said last month. “I don’t know of too many horses that can start racing in January when there’s snow on the ground and go almost to December and still be this good and competitive. He’s a rarity.

“That speaks volumes about this horse and how good he’s been. When you create a schedule, it’s only a schedule, and you’re hoping they can make 80 percent of the engagements. I really never thought he’d make this many, and I supplemented him to two races.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit is Teague’s second Horse of the Year Award winner. Teague co-owned and trained 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue, a female pacer. Wiggle It Jiggleit is trained by Teague’s longtime assistant Clyde Francis. The Teague Stable joins Blair Burgess, Jimmy Takter, Bob McIntosh, and Bill Robinson as training stables to produce two different Horse of the Year winners in the last 30 years.

Teague also had the 2006 Pacer of the Year, Total Truth.

Wiggle It Jiggleit was driven all season by Teague’s 24-year-old son, Montrell. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s victories included the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Carl Milstein Memorial, Hap Hansen Progress Pace, and Matron Stakes.

He won the Little Brown Jug in a memorable stretch duel with Lost For Words, rallying in deep stretch to get to the wire first by a nose.

In addition, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a half-mile track when he won in 1:49 at Harrington Raceway. His time of 1:48 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval.

Montrell Teague enjoyed being able to share the experience of racing Wiggle It Jiggleit with his father.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Montrell Teague said earlier this year. “You dream of it, but you never think it’s going to come this soon. Our past couple years haven’t been the best, and to bounce back like this and have the best horse in the country makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit is a son of stallion Mr Wiggles out of the mare Mozzi Hanover and was bred by James Bernstein, Theresa Bantle, Eric Felter, and Vincent Tancredi. George Teague Jr. raced both Mr Wiggles and Mozzi Hanover during their careers on the track, and owns both horses now.

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