04/19/2016 10:50AM

Giwner: Wiggle It Jiggleit has to settle for Levy consolation

Mike Lizzi
Wiggle It Jiggleit lost a draw by lot to make the final of the Levy Memorial at Yonkers Raceway.

Harness Racing is a game of inches. At no time was that more true than when Wiggle It Jiggleit and Bit Of A Legend N hit the wire together in the fifth and final preliminary leg of the George Morton Levy Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway, making it a clean sweep for the latter and possibly keeping the former from the $606,000 final.

While most people now know that Wiggle It Jiggleit did not make the final, you may not be aware that he was given a chance to draw in by lot.

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Going into the final Levy race of the six-week series, Wiggle It Jiggleit needed to finish first and he had to hope that Texas Terror N was no better than fifth to make the final (fourth would result in a tie for points and the final entrant would be drawn by lot). As it turned out, Wiggle It Jiggleit did win, but he had to share the glory with Bit Of A Legend N as they dead-heated for the top spot.

Going strictly by the rules, points are distributed to the top five finishers with 50 to first, 25 to second, 12 to third, 8 to fourth and 5 to fifth. So, in theory, Wiggle It Jiggleit finished first and should have gotten 50 points. But the initial decision was made to split the points between the two winners, giving each 37.5 points instead of 50.

While there is precedent, as horses that dead-heated for fourth and fifth split points in round three of the series, Racing Secretary Steve Starr admitted that there truly is not a clear rule in place.

“The rules are unclear, but custom and usage is the only thing I can base it on,” said Starr when first contacted early Tuesday (April 19) morning.

Owner George Teague was not happy with the final decision and made numerous calls to argue his point. In addition to pointing out that the conditions of the series list that the horse which finishes first should get 50 points, he cited rule 4100.1 (47) from the NY Gaming Commission rule book that states, “Winner means the horse whose nose reaches the wire first. If there is a dead heat for first, both horses shall be considered winners.”

“I was told that I technically didn’t win,” said Teague. “If that is the case, how are people cashing win tickets?”

Just when you thought all was lost, officials at Yonkers did an about-face late Tuesday morning, electing to award Wiggle It Jiggleit 50 points and the opportunity to draw into the final (he lost the toss-up to Texas Terror N). While Teague was leaning against pursuing legal action, it was clear that the change of heart by the track was to avoid a possible lawsuit.

“Basically he is right about the conditions,” said Starr, referring to Teague’s complaint. “You know what it says on paper, and while the intent may have been different, it doesn’t matter. I was just talking to my assistant and neither of us could have expected anything like that happening.”

To his credit, Starr said that he absolutely would amend the conditions for next year to clear up any confusion.

“This is one of the best races in the industry for the price to enter,” said Starr. “Every year we look at the conditions and have to change something else to make the Levy better.”

Of course, Wiggle It Jiggleit would not have been in the above situation if he didn’t skip the first two legs of the series while electing to start in a $60,000 Open event at Dover instead of round two of the series. Horses are awarded 25 points for each leg they enter and starting in the second preliminary would have meant a spot on the gate for the final.

“I wouldn’t change that part,” said Teague on the decision to race at Dover. “Yonkers can be a tricky track and I didn’t want to start out there. This horse has a huge career in front of him.

“We were just unlucky,” said Teague about the results in legs three (2nd) and five (dead-heat for 1st). “Who could have dreamed up two worse trips? I never would have thought Jordan Stratton (driving Bit Of A Legend N) would have pulled and stalled like that.”

Indeed, it was a masterful bit of driving by Statton behind Bit Of A Legend N if he actually meant to pull in front of Wiggle It Jiggleit and hover on the rim while at the same time keeping the latter from gaining momentum too quickly.

For Teague and Wiggle It Jiggleit, they will start in the $100,000 consolation, race eight on the 12-race Yonkers Raceway Saturday (April 23) card. Regular driver Montrell Teague will be in the bike from post seven.

After Saturday, Wiggle It Jiggleit will head to Flamboro Downs for the eliminations of the Confederation Cup on May 8. The estimated C$225,000 final is slated for May 15.

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