07/08/2016 5:39PM

Meadowlands: Teague vocal about Graduate finalist Wiggle It Jiggleit

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Owner George Teague said that Wiggle It Jiggleit came out of the Ben Franklin in good shape

George Teague Jr. has won a lot of races as a trainer and owner in this sport. He’s also lost a lot more of those races. Yet the owner of Wiggle It Jiggleit has managed to put all of this in perspective in the aftermath of last week’s Ben Franklin final. Teague is looking forward to a sort of rematch in Saturday’s $250,000 Graduate Series final at The Meadowlands.

“He came out of the race in good shape,” said Teague of Wiggle It Jiggleit, third in the Franklin after a rugged first-over trip.

Teague hardly had a chance to catch his breath following the 1:47 effort of Always B Miki in the Franklin before social media began its offensive against Wiggle It Jiggleit’s driver and George’s son Montrell.

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“He’s the quarterback,” said Teague. “He’s done an outstanding job driving this horse and he will continue to drive this horse.”

The elder Teague has managed to keep the criticism in perspective as he reflects on the past races and looks forward to the next one.

“Everyone was looking for a 1:46 mile. There was no way he was going to go out of there in 25 (seconds) and keep going,” said Teague.

Obviously both owner and driver were well aware of last year’s Cane Pace, a race where Teague was forced to park a rival through insane fractions with Wiggle It Jiggleit and paid the price in more ways than one considering the connections supplemented to that event.

“I don’t think the horse was at his best that day,” said Teague reflecting on the Cane. “If he was I don’t think those fractions would have bothered him.”

Those who have questioned the elder Teague’s management or the younger Teague’s driving have not been paying full attention to the scoreboard. The son of Mr Wiggles finished worse than second for just the second time in his brilliant 39 race career in the Franklin. That he was beaten just two lengths after taking air through a 1:19 2/5 three quarters should alone be enough to silence the critics.

Though the Franklin was still on his mind, Teague was miffed to hear comments made on Friday night by a well-known analyst.

“I can’t believe that someone is saying that we ducked Freaky Feet Pete in last year’s Breeders Crown because we were afraid to race against him,” said Teague.

“The facts are that it was a $62,500 supplemental payment. If the horse finished third in the Crown we would have lost money. That just doesn’t make any business sense at all.”

The implication, especially in the light that Wiggle It Jiggleit had been racing since the previous January and had extensively travelled North America to win 22 of his 26 starts, was too much for the elder Teague to listen to.

“People can say anything they want and I understand that,” Teague said. “But for a public figure to throw around his opinion as if it is fact is wrong.”

The war of words is likely to die down somewhat as both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete renew their rivalry in Saturday’s tenth race. As in the Franklin, Wiggle It Jiggleit landed inside (post three) with Freaky Feet Pete starting from post eight in the field of 10.

Freaky Feet Pete had the pocket trip while Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit battled but that wasn’t enough for the son of Rockin Image to win the race. With 29 wins in his 34 career starts, Freaky Feet Pete will get every chance to prove who the best horse from this class is regardless of the post position. Trace Tetrick again has the assignment behind the Larry Rheinheimer-trained 4-year-old.

Though there are eight others in the contest, none are likely to get serious wagering support though many may have something they need to prove. In The Arsenal battled with Wiggle It Jiggleit to his demise in last year’s Cane at The Meadowlands. This year he drew the pole position, but unlike his rival is still looking for his first win in 2016. Brett Miller has been red-hot in stakes action and could be on the offensive here.

Artistic Major (post 2) won a Graduate leg here in May in 1:48 1/5, but on that night Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete squared off in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield. Tim Tetrick guides Artistic Major for trainer Steve Elliott.

Rockin Ron handed Wiggle It Jiggleit one of his losses this year in the Confederation Cup at Flamboro. One of three Indiana-breds in the field, Rockin Ron hopes to regain his winning ways from post five with Yannick Gingras in the bike.

There will be 13 races on the Meadowlands card on Saturday including a single Meadowlands Pace elimination. First post is 7:15 p.m.