Driver Montrell Teague looks for his second Milstein title and will also drive Lather Up’s sire, I’m Gorgeous, on the same card at Northfield Park.
by Jay Wolf
Northfield Park’s executive vice president of racing and simulcasting, Dave Bianconi, has put together a nice field for tonight’s $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial.
The eight-horse field has the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial champion Springsteen (post 4; 6-1 morning line), the winner of the $400,000 Adios Final, Dorsoduro Hanover (post 5; 4-1) and Jimmy Freight (post 1; 3-1), who is unbeaten this season in Ontario Sires Stakes action.
But the partisan Ohio crowd will be pulling for the Ohio-bred Lather Up (post 2; 2-1) and driver Montrell Teague.
Lather Up is owned by Gary and Barbara Iles of Harrington, DE and trained by Clyde Francis. Francis and Teague teamed up to win the 2015 Milstein with Wiggle It Jiggleit.
The homebred son of I’m Gorgeous out of Pocket Comb, has earned $574,465 and won 12 of 16 career races, including the $1 million (Cdn) North America Cup. The colt is ranked No. 6 in this week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll.
Lather Up’s lone 2018 defeat came in the $500,000 Max Hempt Final at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on June 30. He broke stride in the final turn and was placed eighth. After the race it was announced that he suffered from an ulcer and scoped sick.
Away from the track for 28 days, Lather Up raced in a qualifier at the Meadowlands on July 28. That race may be the most watched qualifier in recent memory as Lather Up was up against the New Zealands sensation Lazarus N.
Lather Up finished second, a length behind Lazarus N and was timed in 1:48.4, the last quarter in :25.4.
Last Saturday in the $59,400 Director of Agriculture Pace at Scioto Downs, Teague and Lather Up were hoping for an easier trip. Forced to leave from post 7, the pair were parked three wide at the quarter and was still on the outside at the half. They passed the pacesetting Bounding Dragon and Dan Noble just before the three-quarter pole, but Noble challenged once again. Lather Up dug in and pulled away by 1 ¾ lengths in a track record 1:49.4.
Teague was impressed with Lather Up’s effort.
“I didn’t expect the race to go that way. I thought I had a best horse in that race and I thought I would get a little bit more respect,” said Teague. “Danny (Noble) was doing everything he could to figure out a way to get me beat. By parking my horse he probably thought he had a better chance of winning, but it didn’t work.”
With his main rival tonight just to his inside, Teague will keep his options open.
“I am pretty sure that more than me and Jimmy (Freight) will be leaving out of there. We’ll get behind the gate and whomever leaves out of there, we’ll try to get in the best position possible,” said the 27-year-old reinsman.
Any concerns with Lather Up on a half-mile track?
“No, he was perfect around this track last year as a 2-year-old,” Teague said.
Lather Up won a leg of the Ohio Sires Stake at the suburban Cleveland oval in a track record 1:52.2.
While it is not fair to compare Lather Up with the 2015 Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, some similarities between the two exist.
“Both are great horses. Both of them showed guts. Look at the Little Brown Jug with Wiggle It Jiggleit. That was just pure guts and a determination to win. I could say the same thing about last week at Scioto (Downs). Being parked and finally getting around him at the three-quarter pole and still took off. There is no quit in (Lather Up) either,” said Teague.
On tonight’s Milstein undercard is a non-winners of $3,500 in their last four starts that are non-winners of $40,000 in 2018 event. Normally an $8,500 conditioned pace goes unnoticed except the morning line favorite is I’m Gorgeous, the sire of Lather Up. The 11-year-old returned to the races in 2017 after a brief stud career (full story here) and will be catch-driven by Teague, whose father owned the colt earlier in his career.
“It will be cool to drive the father and then the son,” said Teague. “It makes for a good story.”
Regardless of the result tonight, Lather Up and Teague expect to be at Scioto Downs next weekend for the final leg of the Ohio Sires Stake. Having missed the middle two legs due to the NA Cup and illness, Lather Up needs a solid finish to guarantee a spot in the $275,000 OHSS Final on Sept. 8.
The Carl Milstein Memorial will be race 11 on a 16-race program that will also include the $50,000 Myron Charna President’s Pace for veteran Ohio-breds and multiple divisions of Ohio Sires Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers. First race post time is 6:00 p.m. (EST), with the Milstein scheduled for an approximate 10 p.m. start.
The race is named in honor of Carl Milstein, who owned and operated Northfield Park from 1984 until his death in 1999. His son, Brock, took over as chairman of Northfield Park upon his father’s passing until earlier this year when MGM Growth Properties purchased the racetrack from Milstein Entertainment, LLC.
In 1972, the senior Milstein, a Cleveland builder and real estate developer, headed a group of several partners, including George Steinbrenner, which purchased Northfield Park. They leased the facility to other operators through the early 1980s. The track lost significant amounts of money during that period before Milstein took full ownership and control. In late 1984, he successfully applied to the Ohio State Racing Commission for the necessary licenses and, beginning in January, 1985, conducted permanent race meetings at Northfield of between 212 and 238 days every year.
Milstein was the driving force behind a resurgence of the beleaguered track, which ascended to among harness racing’s top tracks in attendance and handle. He was an innovator in promotions and advertising and successfully led the track into the era of simulcast racing.
Superfecta wagering will be available on tonight’s featured 11th race event with a $20,000 guaranteed pool. It is also the fourth leg of the Pick-4, which has a guaranteed pool of $10,000.
— with files from Ayers Ratliff / Northfield Park