09/07/2016 2:14PM

Bergman: Wiggle It Jiggleit has all the tools in his arsenal

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Wiggle It Jiggleit just keeps chugging along despite a long and hard schedule.

Often lost in the quest to decipher which is the best horse in the sport is the concept that it is not simply a test of speed. Players always look for the fastest horse in a particular race and generally glean that opinion from the most recent performances. Whether equine or human, races contested rarely finish in the exact same time no matter the participants. Over the course of time the battle is more to do with will and stamina than it is with natural speed.

Though occasionally the Usain Bolt’s of the world appear and happen to be faster and better over the long haul, four-legged horses tend to do more physical damage over the course of time and ultimately lose a fraction of their speed in the process.

Wiggle It Jiggleit’s victory in the Canadian Pacing Derby last Saturday may have been the result of a better post position, or it may have been the result of a better trip. Then again, Wiggle It Jiggleit’s victory may have something to do with his stamina and willpower. Or is it possible that Wiggle It Jiggleit is actually the same exact horse he was finishing behind Always B Miki in the Franklin in early July at Pocono while his rival is not the same?

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If Always B Miki is not the same horse that blew away his rivals in the Franklin first, and then the Haughton at The Meadowlands, he’s not exactly that far off that form. Dominance is sometimes achieved when rivals don’t press the issue and instead allow you the freedom to pass. It was clear on Saturday from the early stages of the Canadian Pacing Derby that Montrell Teague had no inclination to let another horse, even one of the stature of Always B Miki, lead the race for Wiggle It Jiggleit to follow.

Getting the lead on Saturday would come at a cost, and this time the tables were turned on Always B Miki, and his driver David Miller elected not to push for the front and instead take a 3-hole.

It was a surprise to me that Miller relented. Surely Teague had learned the lesson of parking a field when he did so in last year’s Cane Pace at The Meadowlands, leading to Wiggle It Jiggleit’s worst outcome of his Horse of the Year campaign. Miller was in fact sitting behind Always B Miki, a horse that refused to take a seat in the Ben Franklin eliminations and wore out Mel Mara in the process.

At the same time, Miller was driving a horse that on Saturday had shown some weakness in his previous few encounters and maybe it was that fact that inspired the driver to play it safe and not risk wearing his horse down further to get the front.

Miller’s call led to an overland trip without cover at the mercy of a fresh Wiggle It Jiggleit through the third quarter. That Always B Miki wasn’t able to reach his rival and engage head to head was disappointing, but at the same time you have think Teague too was aware of keeping a safe distance from a rival.

There was no stretch battle, but at the same time down the stretch at Mohawk appeared two resilient warriors, not eye-to-eye, but both winning their own individual races. Wiggle It Jiggleit got the top prize but despite the long journey of Always B Miki, the 5-year-old refused to give ground in the stretch and was still pacing to the wire and not allowing any of his fresher foes to get by him.

How close in ability are Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki?

That is a question we may not find the answer to this year or ever. Each battle has its own storyline and post position and track size is relevant as is time of the year and competition.

What Always B Miki hasn’t proven during his injury interrupted racing career is long-term dominance.

After winning the Franklin and Haughton there were many ready to put a Crown on the new king because it seemed as if he was not only winning but sapping the strength of the losers in the process. Make no mistake, there is a wear-and-tear part of the equation and the Mel Mara’s and Freaky Feet Pete’s of the world appeared to feel the sting of chasing down horses that they just couldn’t beat.

Shamballa caught a good day in the U.S. Pacing championship, but on his home turf at Mohawk he was clearly not the same horse, unable to pounce after the two favorites had done battle.

There are no conclusions to this story but I keep thinking about the horses that Wiggle It Jiggleit has defeated time and again and their career paths after a few losses. Some recover and race at the same level while others lose their edge and need to find easier ground to be competitive.

Lost For Words lost an epic battle with Wiggle It Jiggleit in last year’s Little Brown Jug final heat. It was the best and worst day in the career of the son of Well Said. He went the biggest miles of his career on that afternoon in September. One would have thought a year later he would again be challenging at the highest level.

Lost For Words did not win another race the rest of 2015 and actually didn’t win a race this year until July, and that came at Scioto, far removed from stakes competition. Certainly much could have happened to Lost For Words that day and in the days that followed which has led his performance to degrade some. At the same time, it wouldn’t be that big a stretch to believe the horse had his spirit broken on that Thursday afternoon in September.

On the other side is Wiggle It Jiggleit, a horse that bounces back from every defeat and simply defies the odds. It is hard to find a better horse out there.

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