12/31/2015 10:57AM

Marks: Always B Miki seeks to emulate grandsire

David Baum
Always B Miki shown winning the American National.

In many ways the late season sensation Always B Miki will be following a path similar to his grandsire, the well remembered Western Ideal, in the upcoming 2016 racing season.

Western Ideal was a good, though not necessarily outstanding 2-year-old, with his primary claim to fame being a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes victory at Pocono Downs in 1:54 3/5. He made a Grand Circuit start at Lexington’s Red Mile that year on September 27, 1997 only be pulled up lame and not finish.

At that time, his listed trainer was Gene Riegle’s son Alan Riegle. In all he made nine starts at 2 with three wins and earned $57,452

Western Ideal then missed his entire 3-year-old season before being transferred to the barn of Blair Burgess in Canada to prepare for his 4-year old season.

In that his accomplishments at age 2 were modest at best, Western Ideal was able to start in moderate conditional races and gradually work his way up the class ladder.  As of late June, Western Ideal was deemed ready for open competition and while he appeared in several major free-for-all events he failed to win any, recording but four overnight victories in 22 starts while earning $177,970. He hit the board in only one stake, the Prix d’ Autome at Hippodrome Montreal.

As a 5-year-old in 2000, Western Ideal was transferred to the Brett Pelling barn for which he became the dominant aged pacer winning 10 of 14 starts and earning $1,220,000.

The rest is pretty much history as Western Ideal has become one of the great sires of this modern era and in particular has emerged as a sire of sires producing major siring sons of Rocknroll Hanover, American Ideal and Always B Miki’s sire Always A Virgin.

Always B Miki initially raced by Joe Holloway competed 10 times at age 2 winning three races while earning $67,138. His primary claim to fame would be an Indiana Sire Stakes Gold win at Hoosier Park in 1:53 1/5. He did face Grand Circuit competition in his final seasonal start, that being the Elevation where he was a good second to divisional champion JK Endofanera.

At 3, Always B Miki remained with Holloway winning the Reynolds Memorial at the Meadowlands in 1:50 3/5 and the Somebeachsomewhere at Mohawk in 1:50 prior to making a break as the odds-on favorite in the North American Cup, where he finished fifth.

He then finished an incredible second in He’s Watching’s record  1:46 4/5 Meadowlands Pace despite being parked three wide the entire mile and closing in 25 3/5 in a visually spectacular effort.

From there it was back to Hoosier Park where he posted a solid win in the Tattersalls Pace at The Red Mile.

Then it was back to the Meadowlands where he won his elimination for the Breeders Crown in November prior to being scratched from the $531,250 final after warming up lame. It was later determined he suffered a P1 fracture in his left hind leg.

Thereafter, a change in ownership precipitated a barn change to Jimmy Takter for his upcoming 4-year-old season.  Following a spring training session in 1:53 it was discovered he had fractured the P1 bone in his other hind leg, which caused him to miss the bulk of the 2015 season.

Finally sound, Always B Miki returned to the races in mid September of 2015, reeling off four successive victories in an Indiana Sires Stakes, the Breeders Crown elimination and final, and the American National at Balmoral Park.

In that Always B Miki had but four starts in 2015, it wasn’t enough to earn him the title of aged pacing champion for the season. That honor went to State Treasurer.  However, most voters would concede that he clearly was the best aged pacer at the end of the year which sets things up for 2016.

Come Friday January 1st he’ll be a fully fledged 5-year-old in what should be his first full season for Jimmy Takter. Always B Miki looks to follow his grandsire Western Ideal by dominating what could be a spectacular group of aged pacers.

Incumbent champ State Treasurer is slated to return, as is the ageless wonder Foiled Again. In addition, the division will be further enhanced by the presence of the 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit and his chief tormenter, Breeders Crown Champion Freaky Feet Pete.

As for Western Ideal, he accomplished what may be unprecedented, producing two outstanding stallions in the same crop—Rocknroll Hanover and American Ideal. Of those two, Rocknroll Hanover has already accounted for two good sires in Rock N Roll Heaven and Rockin Image, while American Ideal has yet to have a son with foals on the ground.

In that Western Ideal is so obviously a sire of sires, one would think that bodes well down the road for grandson Always B Miki. But first, he has racing to do.           

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