09/28/2015 9:55AM

Bergman: Wiggle It Jiggleit is one of a kind

Derick Giwner
Wiggle It Jiggleit (1) couldn't clear Lost For Words at the half mile marker, but ultimately was victorious in the Little Brown Jug.

“I thought he was beat.”

Those were the words of owner George Teague following the Little Brown Jug.

Teague was far from alone in his assessment of Wiggle It Jiggleit in the second and what would prove to be decisive heat of the 70th Jug.

If you’re looking to find flaws in Wiggle It Jiggleit, it’s not hard to despite two incredible heats at Delaware.

Just look at the first turn in each of those races and you’re left scratching your head. To me, there’s no denying just how fast this son of Mr Wiggles is. Yet inspecting his activities on the first turn at Delaware, one couldn’t help but notice that Wiggle It Jiggleit wasn’t exactly helping himself with his gait.

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“He does that and sees things on the track,” said Teague. “But in all of the times he’s trained he’s never gone into a flat out break.”

Amazing as that sounds, George’s son Montrell had to steady his horse in both heats and somehow managed to overcome events that would have knocked out every other horse that has ever competed in the Jug.

Sure, there were instant comparisons to Life Sign’s amazing parked-out mile against an arsenal from the then dominant Bill Robinson stable in 1993. I was there to witness that race and I’m sure the other 50,000 in attendance could verify just how extraordinary Life Sign was on that afternoon.

But Life Sign didn’t have to do what Wiggle It Jiggleit did. Final times aside, Life Sign never came close to losing his stride. His driver, John Campbell, did have to re-figure his steps early in the mile but once he did the colt’s incredible will took over.

None of the four turns at Delaware helped the Teague’s pride and joy. As adventurous as the first turn was in both heats the gelding was able to overcome.

For the elder Teague, it had been a roller coaster ride that saw him hit the highest highs and some of the lowest lows through a storied career.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Teague. “I mean I started out racing $1,000 claimers. To win the Jug is something else.”

Yet at the same time Teague is no stranger to greatness having campaigned Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue in 2004.

“It’s very different now,” said Teague. “Make no mistake about it that we had a lot of fun when I was doing this with my partners, but this is special going through this with my family.”

Teague pointed to the one aspect of this sport that has been a constant for a long time and remains so this day. So many horsemen are second, third and fourth generation. The family bond is what makes days like this past Thursday standout even more.

Montrell Teague withstood the wrath of those brave Internet critics following his drive in the Cane Pace at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day. It was one of only two losses in the career of Wiggle It Jiggleit and to many it was the fault of his driver and no one else.

Montrell managed to stay away from the outside noise and pay close attention to his horse the next times on the racetrack.

To anyone with eyes, it is clearly Montrell’s understanding of Wiggle It Jiggleit’s mindset within a race that has brought the two back to the winner’s circle on so many occasions this year.

The reality for me is that after more than 40 years watching pacers and trotters I am stumped to find one horse that measures up to Wiggle It Jiggleit’s style, substance or domination over any sized track.

“He’s got incredible lungs,” said George Teague.

The elder Teague also said that he has an awesome team that focuses incredible attention on the horse. “We call him `Bubble Wrap’ because everyone watches that he doesn’t get into any trouble,” said Teague.

For a horse that will do whatever it takes to win races, he’s not one that cares for the winner’s circle greatly. Two trips on Thursday to the space inside the Delaware County oval were of great concern, with the horse walking into and out of the winner’s circle without stopping for a photo op.

Derick Giwner  Wiggle It Jiggleit and caretaker Mike Taylor.

That’s one of the secrets in this sport to those that have seen enough horses. The job of the trainer and caretaker are to take care of the horse and in this specific case, what’s best for Wiggle It Jiggleit is not necessarily what’s best for the photographer or for those that want a winner’s circle photo that includes the winning horse.

Wiggle It Jiggleit has a mind of his own and an incredible set of lungs. He is a horse that has as much pure speed and will as any standardbred that has competed on the big stage.

Wiggle It Jiggleit should be the exact type of horse that Jeff Gural was looking for to help revive this sport. One that, because he’s a gelding, is likely to stay on the racetrack and remain a star attraction for as long as he’s healthy.

If Wiggle It Jiggleit doesn’t fit that profile then no horse ever will again.

Though Thursday’s race will likely go down in this sport’s history as one of its greatest if not the greatest effort of all time by a pacer, we asked Teague if he could recall one race that stood out in his mind prior to Thursday as the greatest.

“I’d have to say Art Official winning the Meadowlands Pace over Somebeachsomewhere was the greatest race I had ever seen prior to Thursday,” Teague said, harking back to the epic event in 2008 that knocked Somebeachsomewhere from the ranks of the unbeaten but in the long run proved the horse’s greatness.

Earlier this year some had compared Wiggle It Jiggleit to Somebeachsomewhere and many thought the comparisons premature.

Having now won the Little Brown Jug with two epic uncovered performances, the second in which he snatched victory in the final strides from what appeared to be a guaranteed defeat, the scales of accomplishment are tilting in his favor.

What stands ahead for Wiggle It Jiggleit remains to be seen. Teague knows what is on the schedule but also realizes that the weight of large supplemental fees is on him should be wish to put Wiggle It Jiggleit into this year’s Breeders Crown.

“We’ll see how he bounces back from this,” Teague said. “All along we planned to try to race him into November.”

There are those that wish for Wiggle It Jiggleit to compete in the Crown and perhaps even the TVG at the Meadowlands against older foes. Those appearances may offer the instant gratification we all crave. Personally, following Thursday’s one-of-a-kind performance, I would like to see Wiggle It Jiggleit last for a long time and be “The One” that helps the sport gain the national attention it once had.

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