09/24/2015 7:41PM

Little Brown Jug: Wiggle It Jiggleit refused to lose 70th Jug

Derick Giwner
Wiggle It Jiggleit (1) overcame a first-over trip to win the second and final heat of the Little Brown Jug.

The 46,721 fans of Harness Racing that showed up to witness the 70th Little Brown Jug on Thursday afternoon were treated to one of the greatest races in the history of the sport. Two true combatants—Wiggle It Jiggleit and Lost For Words—battled valiantly for half-a-mile and it was a shame there had to be a loser.

Wiggle It Jiggleit came to the Delaware County Fairgrounds as the best 3-year-old pacer in world and finished the day as Little Brown Jug champion. In straight heat victories of 1:49 2/5 and 1:49 3/5, Wiggle It Jiggleit prevailed, moving his nearly spotless career record to 18 wins in 20 starts.

The $324,960 second heat of the Jug saw Lost For Words quickest off the gate as Wiggle It Jiggleit, who drew post one, lacked a quick first step from the gate. “I wanted to leave and get the front, but he put in a couple of steps coming out of there,” said driver Montrell Teague of Wiggle It Jiggleit in the early stages.

With Lost For Words in command ahead of the pocket-sitting My Hero Ron in a 27-second opening quarter, Wiggle It Jiggleit began to edge to the rim. The Clyde Francis trainee rushed up approaching the 54 1/5 half and engaged in combat with Lost For Words. The duo were inseparable down the backstretch the second time as they clicked off three quarters in 1:21 1/5.

The crowd was in a complete frenzy while the two elimination winners refused to yield ground until the top of the stretch when Lost For Words suddenly edged clear. All signs pointed to hometown trainer Brian Brown finally picking up the Little Brown Jug trophy he has always wanted. But it wasn’t meant to be.

In a true display of courage and class, Wiggle It Jiggleit dug down deep and simply refused to be defeated, finishing a nose ahead of Lost For Words in a race for the ages.

My Hero Ron snagged third.

“I thought I was beat, but he knows where the finish line is, I guess,” said Montrell.

Derick Giwner              Caretaker Mike Taylor gives Wiggle It Jiggleit a bath after his win.

Owner George Teague, Jr admitted that he thought his horse was a bit tired coming around the final turn, but he wasn’t surprised with the final outcome.

“Horses don’t usually do that,” said George Teague about the resurgent effort. “They get looked in the eye and they start backing out. He’s a very unusual horse.”

A man of few words and often outside of the spotlight that is shining more brightly on the Teagues, Clyde Francis was practically in tears following the win and couldn’t muster any words until the victory had a chance to set in 15 minutes later.

“This is one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had,” said Francis. “I’ve seen a lot of great horses but none of them have made me feel like him.”

It was hard to come away from Thursday’s performance seeing Lost For Words as a loser. He fought bravely and was beaten by a horse that is clearly special.

“My horse, I’m so proud of him, my driver, my groom. It is a tough pill to take when you’ve come this far, you live here, you dream of this, and to come within inches. But hats off to Montrell, George, the horse, Clyde, his groom, they fought back. I had him put away at the top of the stretch and he just kept coming,” said a gracious Brian Brown.

Wiggler It Jiggleit picked up $335,792 for his efforts on Thursday and increased his yearly earnings to $1,823,680.  With a big finish to the year and perhaps a win against the best older pacers in the sport in the TVG Free For All series finale at the Meadowlands, Wiggle It Jiggleit could potentially record the single-season earnings record on both gaits. That number stands at $2,456,041 set by trotter Muscle Hill in 2009.

Where would that place the gelded son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover in the grand scheme of racing’s elite? According to the Teagues, Wiggle It Jiggleit is already the greatest ever.

“He is the greatest of all time, absolutely,” said Montrell. “He’s proven on paper. He’s proven it on the racetrack. He’s proven it everywhere. Who else would you say?”

Wiggle It Jiggleit is expected to be on display next at Hoosier Park on October 10 followed by a Breeders Crown appearance at Woodbine Racetrack.

He thrilled the crowd and the sport on Thursday but most of all Wiggle It Jiggleit provided the Teagues, one of the nicest families in the sport, with something to remember for the rest of their lives.

“I’ve never seen him this happy,” said Montrell about George. “He always says it is because of me driving. With Rainbow Blue he was always happy, but never this happy.”

If you missed the 70th Little Brown Jug, you missed a classic.