Trio of Delaware horses come home for Matrons
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Dover Downs also on Thursday hosts the $243,550 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters, $201,450 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers, and $187,400 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters.
Wiggle It Jiggleit, harness racing's No. 1-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll, has won 19 of 23 races this year and earned a North America-leading $1.91 million. Trained by longtime Teague assistant Clyde Francis, Wiggle It Jiggleit's wins include the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Hempt Memorial, Battle of the Brandywine, and Milstein Memorial.
He finished second in two recent races at Hoosier Park, bested both times by 1 1/4 lengths by Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete after pace-setting trips.
"(Wiggle It Jiggleit) is doing good,” George Teague Jr. said. "When you lose, it's always disappointing, but I do believe the losses came because of the trips he got. The trips were good to the other horse, but that's what happens sometimes. But he didn't underperform. I don't see him being much different. He just got beat by a nice horse.”
After competing just once at age 2, Wiggle It Jiggleit began this season racing in winter series at the Meadowlands. He has made at least one start every month this year, with the exception of April.
"That speaks volumes about this horse and how good he's been,” Teague said. "When you create a schedule, it's only a schedule, and you're hoping they can make 80 percent of the engagements. I really never thought he'd make this many, and I supplemented him to two races.
"He's just been an incredible horse. I don't know of too many horses that can start racing in January when there's snow on the ground and go almost to December and still be this good and competitive. He's a rarity. He's just pounding away, really.”
Wakizashi Hanover has won 11 of 19 races this year and earned $1.15 million for the Nova Scotia-based Tri County Stable and driver Tim Tetrick. His victories include the North America Cup, by three-quarters of a length over Wiggle It Jiggleit, plus Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, and Jenna's Beach Boy.
He will be facing Wiggle It Jiggleit for the first time since finishing second in the Battle of the Brandywine on Aug. 22 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
"When (Wiggle It Jiggleit) draws the rail, it's kind of tough,” Looney-King said. "Fortunately, I'm not the driver; he gets to make those decisions what to do when the wings swing.
"But (Wakizashi Hanover) is feeling good. I'm just hoping he gives us a good one this week. We're as ready as we're going to be. It's been a long campaign. He's developed a lot, but it's a tough go for those 3-year-olds, with the traveling and going new places. Fortunately, he's fallen into line in each place.”
Dude's The Man, trained by Jessica Okusko and driven by Dover Downs' leading driver Corey Callahan, has won three of 18 races this season and earned $658,176. His wins include the Adios and he finished second in the Meadowlands Pace and third in the Battle of the Brandywine.
The remainder of the Matron field includes Cane Pace champion Dealt A Winner, Badiou Hanover, Artistic Major, Rock N' Roll World, and Yankee Bounty, whose owners include Harrington's Frank Chick.
Thursday's Matron might not be the final time this group meets at Dover Downs this year. All of the Matron entrants with the exceptions of Badiou Hanover and Artistic Major are eligible to the Hap Hansen Progress Pace at the end of the month.
The Matron Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters features the division's top two money-earners, Wild Honey and Mission Brief, while the event for the 3-year-old male trotters includes Crazy Wow, who with a victory would top $1 million in seasonal purses.
Breeders Crown winner Divine Caroline brings a four-race win streak to the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old female pacers. (HRC)