06/18/2015 5:29PM

North America Cup: Montrell Teague confident in the spotlight

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Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 8-5 morning line favorite to win the North America Cup.

Driver Montrell Teague has been here before, but this time it is different. The 24-year-old will be driving Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 8-5 morning line favorite in the C$1,000,000 North America Cup for 3-year-old pacers on Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in Canada.

Driving the 10-1 Custard The Dragon to a third-place finish in the 2011 Cup is one thing. Taking the lines behind an undefeated star with your father (George Teague, Jr.) as owner and family friend Clyde Francis as trainer, steps up the pressure on a young man in just his sixth year in the bike with only minimal stakes experience.

“Other drivers in the race have more experience, but I know what I’m doing,” said the younger Teague. “I have to be confident. I’m sure dad would be looking for a new driver if I wasn’t confident enough.”

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Teague has every right to be confident. Wiggle It Jiggleit has yet to taste defeat in 11 career starts. The son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover has reeled off 10 straight wins to start his 2015 campaign and blew away the competition by six lengths in his Cup elimination last Saturday.

The only horse to come within one length of Wiggle It Jiggleit at the wire was Bettorever back on February 7 at the Meadowlands. Since that race, the competition has by far been in the rearview mirror with the exception of a talented Indiana-bred named Freaky Feet Pete, who missed by just 1 1/2 lengths on May 30 at Hoosier Park despite a tough trip from an outside post.

Speed has been the name of the game for Wiggle It Jiggleit. The gelding’s past performance lines are chock-full of “1s” at every call. He set a world record for 3-year-olds on a half-mile track with a 1:49 mile at Harrington back on May 11 and according to Teague, he did it easily.

“At Harrington, I wasn’t planning on setting a record. When he is strong and on the bit, I just let him do what he wants to do,” said Teague.

When a horse is winning without breaking a sweat in 1:49 2/5, like he did in his NA Cup elimination, one has to wonder how fast he could go if let loose.

“He hasn’t hit his bottom yet. I think he can pace in (1):46 or (1):47; maybe he can be the fastest ever and reach (1):45. But he is a gelding not a colt. He has a long time of racing left and I don’t want make him do more than he needs to,” said Teague, who didn’t rule out going for at least one fast mile sometime during the year.

Starting from the advantageous three-hole, which he earned with his elimination win, Teague has no definite strategy. Well, not really.

“I don’t have a game plan going in. I usually wait to see what happens and I react,” said Teague. “He’s just as good off the pace as on the lead, but I don’t want to risk a bad trip by taking him back.”

Wiggle It Jiggleit’s nine foes on Saturday represent the best field he has faced in his career by leaps and bounds. Fellow elimination winner In The Arsenal has won each of his four starts in 2015 for trainer Kelvin Harrison. He starts from post five with Brian Sears in the bike. Wakizashi Hanover’s Cup elimination victory was equally as impressive as “Wiggle” and clocked in the same 1:49 2/5 time. Tim Tetrick guides the four-time winner this year from post two for trainer Joann Looney-King.

Despite a loss to Wakizashi Hanover a week ago, last year’s 2-year-old colt champion Artspeak could be the most dangerous of the entire group. He owns the fastest winning mile of the year (1:48 4/5) and didn’t give up in his elimination despite Wakizashi Hanover swooping past him. The Scott Zeron-driven colt will have to earn his victory after drawing post ten.

Speaking somewhat like a politician trying to skirt the issue, Teague refused to name any horse he fears in the race. He is only concerned with one horse—Wiggle It Jiggleit.

“They are all good horses and deserve to be there,” said Teague. “Once you let your guard down and believe that you don’t have to worry about a horse, that is the one that comes to beat you.”

The North America Cup is programmed as race 12 on a 15-race stakes-filled card that gets underway at 6:30 p.m. 

1 Good Friday Three  B.Miller 20-1
2 Wakizashi Hanover T.Tetrick 5-2
3 Wiggle It Jiggleit M.Teague 8-5
4 Betting Exchange D.Miller 15-1
5 In The Arsenal B.Sears 7-2
6 Yankee Bounty C.Callahan 20-1
7 Arque Hanover J.Campbell 25-1
8 Hurrikane Ali Y.Gingras 25-1
9 Penji Hanover C.Christoforou 20-1
10 Artspeak S.Zeron 5-1
11AE Split The House R.Waples 15-1