Always B Miki equaled the 1:47 world record and fought off both Wiggle It Jiggleit and Freaky Feet Pete in the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Pocono in what was clearly the race of the year, so far, and perhaps a foreshadowing of more epic battles to come.
by Dave Briggs
Earlier this week, George Teague was comparing the Ben Franklin to a typical pay-for-view fight big on the hype. He was just hoping aloud that the first meeting of his Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki — with nemesis Freaky Feet Pete thrown in for good measure — wasn’t the equivalent of one of those over-in-30-seconds bouts.
Last night at Mohegan Sun Pocono, the $500,000 Ben Franklin delivered on the hype when the Big 3 grabbed the top three. Second choice (8-5) Always B Miki (David Miller) prevailed over a dead game Freaky Feet Pete (Trace Tetrick) by three-quarters of a length in a 1:47 mile that equaled the world record on a five-eighths mile track. Favorite Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) was two lengths back in third.
Was it the greatest race ever? Well, no. But that was preposterous, especially so early in the year with so much money left in the season. But it was clearly the best race of the year, so far, with the trio battling at different points throughout the mile, including Wiggle It Jiggleit gunning for Always B Miki first over and Pete thundering up the inside in the lane.
“It was a great race,” Tetrick said. “The trip kind of worked out like I thought it would. I was hoping to press and land on the front and control it, or get moved on by either Montrell or David… David took me as long as I needed to go, I just needed a little longer stretch to beat him.”
Wining training Jimmy Takter, who also won the James Lynch Memorial with Pure Country and cleared some $550,000 on the night racing in various locations, agreed that the Ben Franklin “was a hell of a race and (Always B Miki) had a hell of a race. He never got any breather. He went hard from the beginning. When he took over the lead, here came Wiggle It Jiggleit going at him right away. (Always B Miki) was just fantastic.”
George Teague, the principal owner of Wiggle It Jiggleit said the night “was nothing but exceptional… There was a hell of a buzz. People were really looking to see these three horses knock heads and it was good to be a part of it. I don’t think anybody walked away too disappointed. I’m not even disappointed and I finished third. My horse has never embarrassed himself.”
It was the third straight sub-1:48 mile for Always B Miki and Takter said all talk of breaking the 1:46.4 word record ended when the sun went down behind the mountains surrounding Wilkes-Barre, PA and a chill came to the air.
“I really don’t care too much. If he stays healthy and sound, I’m pretty sure he will (set the world record) one day. He’s just a special animal,” Takter said of Always B Miki, a five-year-old son of Always Virgin—Artstopper who surpassed $1.5 million lifetime with the victory. “This was his third week in a row racing. He is getting sharper and sharper now. He’s starting to feel race tight now.
“I don’t want to be bragging, but (Always B Miki) is just a little better than those two. They are very, very good horses Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit. They had a hell of race. They raced their hearts out. It was fantastic to see the three of them working at it, but I knew as soon as (Always B Miki) got to the front that he was going to be tough to beat. I know this horse and he doesn’t give in, especially now that he started feeling so good. Last year, he grabbed the right line a little bit for me and things like that, but he’s getting better and better this guy.”
Always B Miki has won five of seven races this year and nine of 11 since returning from injury last October. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable, and Christina Takter.
As exceptional as Always B Miki was and the race was, racing fans stand to benefit most from these ultra-talented older pacers going to war again in the future.
“They’re going to face off again and I take off my hat to them,” Takter said, referring to Freaky Feet Pete and Wiggle It Jiggleit. “They’re only four-year-olds and they’re driven by young kids. David (Miller) is a veteran in this game and I thought the kids drove a smart race, all of them.”
— with files by Ken Weingartner / Harness Racing Communications