Co-owner George Teague announced to the Meadowlands that Wiggle It Jiggleit, the top money-winning horse in harness racing in 2016, will not be entered in Saturday's $400,000 TVG Free For All final due to a minor foot bruise and bout with sickness. The race was expected to mark the ninth and final showdown with world-record holder and Breeders Crown champion Always B Miki.
"It is nothing serious, but you can't continue like that," explained Teague. "He's made 50 starts over the past two seasons with very few hiccups so we definitely did not want to take any chances to hurt him or his reputation if he was not 100 percent."
Without Wiggle It Jiggleit, Saturday's TVG final will have a field of seven, headlined by Always B Miki, who will be making his final career start before being retired to stud at Diamond Creek Farm.
The rest of the field, in alphabetical order, is: All Bets Off, Dealt A Winner, Mach It So, Melmerby Beach, Shamballa, and Take It Back Terry.
For racing fans, the final image of the legendary rivalry between Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki will be their epic stretch duel in the Breeders Crown Open Pace. For the record, the horses faced each other eight times in 2016 with Always B Miki winning four times and Wiggle It Jiggleit winning three times. Shamballa upset both horses in the U.S. Pacing Championship in August at the Meadowlands.
"You always hear about what a tough transition it is for a 4 year old to face older horses," said Teague, "but I think Wiggle it put a whole new standard on that argument. He'll rest for about two months, get plenty of field time with no jogging or training and if all goes well, we might just try him again in the Levy next year."
With no more races this season, the decision of which horse deserves the nod as the top free-for-all pacer belongs in the hands of the Dan Patch Award voters. To those voters, Teague offered his opinion with no hesitation.
"I would say they should vote for the horse that made the money, raced on all sized tracks, and made the most starts," said Teague. "My opinion is that Miki is a great horse, nothing but respect for him and his connections. But if you go by body of work, my horse started in March and went until late October, we beat each other three or four times apiece, and my horse made more money while racing on halves, five-eighths, and big tracks. If it were up to me, that's just my opinion."
"But this year was a lot of fun and I guarantee you that Miki's connections felt the same way. It was something that racing definitely needed and my entire team and I were all so glad to have been a part of it. It was something that nobody else gets to experience."
OTHER TVG FINAL FIELDS
The other big development when entries were taken for Saturday's four TVG Finals was that 3-year-old Breeders Crown champion Bar Hopping accepted an invitation and will race against aged horses in the $400,000 TVG Free For All Trot. The rest of the field, in alphabetical order, is: Centurion ATM, Crazy Wow, JL Cruze, Lookslikeachpndale, Obrigado, Resolve, and Wind of the North.
Breeders Crown winners Hannelore Hanover and Lady Shadow headline their respective divisions.
The full field for the $200,000 TVG Mare Trot, in alphabetical order, is: Barn Doll, Bee A Magician, Classical Annie, D'One, Hannelore Hanover, Kelsey's Keepsake, and Shake It Cerry.
The full field for the $200,000 TVG Mare Pace, in alphabetical order, is: Bedroomconfessions, Frost Damage Blues, Inittowinafortune, Katie Said, Lady Shadow, Sassa Hanover, Skippin By, Solar Sister, and Venus Delight. (Meadowlands)