Top Trotters and Pacers Shine on Saturday Night

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Ted Black

September 11th, 2016

Standardbred racing fans were treated to a bevy of exceptional performances at several venues on Saturday night and there will be more of them on the horizon.

Saturday night at Scioto Downs in Ohio, nine of the sport's best older pacers convened for the $225,000 Jim Ewart Memorial and not even a rain-soaked sloppy track could dampen the enthusiasm of this event.

Fresh off his handy score in the $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Raceway one week earlier, reining horse of the year Wiggle It Jiggleit (Montrell Teague) received considerable backing despite drawing post eight in the field of nine. He was sent out as the 8-5 second choice despite a pair of recent sharp scores in lucrative events.

Despite being upended by 'Wiggle It' in their last two meetings, Always B Miki (Brett Miller) was made the 4-5 favorite for trainer Jimmy Takter from post six. Always B Miki had been the dominant force in this group in the late spring and early summer, but he has shown some signs of vulnerability recently.

Looking to upend that top pair were Rockeyed Optimist, All Bets Off, Artistic Major, Dealt A Winner, Luck Be With You, American Primetime and Freaky Feet Pete.

When the gate folded in the Ewart Memorial, All Bets Off, Luck Be With You and Wiggle It Jiggle It all left very alertly with Always B Miki finding a seat in fourth. Luck Be With You cleared All Bets Off before the far turn, but Wiggle It Jiggleit was parked past the opener in 25.2 before taking command.

Wiggle It Jiggleit worked hard to make the front but the reigning horse of the year could not get a breather because Always B Miki angled out first over entering the clubhouse turn and pressed the leader as they rolled by the half in 53 flat.

Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki proceeded to battle down the backside and by three-quarters in an eye-opening 1:19, with Luck Be With You staying in close pursuit from the pocket while All Bets Off began to give way.

Always B Miki forged a slight lead outside of Wiggle It Jiggleit through the far turn and they continued to battle through the lane where the favorite surged past the reigning horse of the year in the final yards for nearly a length victory in 1:47. Wiggle It Jiggleit was game in defeat while second with Luck Be With You a solid third. Freaky Feet Pete finished fourth in a decent effort.

Always B Miki has now won seven of 12 starts and banked over $875,000 this year with three of his victories coming in 1:47 flat. The five-year-old Always A Virgin stallion has raced well on the bigger tracks but will likely decline an invite to the $200,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway next Monday.

Wiggle It Jiggleit, who owns the all-age track record at Harrington of 1:49 will undoubtedly be on hand, as will Luck Be With You. Freaky Feet Pete might head over, but All Bets Off may need some time off.

Speaking of the Quillen, several horses that might earn an invite competed in the $45,000 Open at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night.

PH Supercam (Jason Bartlett), a fixture in the George Morton Levy Memorial series at Yonkers as well as the Open, benefited from a pocket trip behind Winds Of Change and overhauled that one in the lane to score in 1:51.

A nine-year-old Million Dollar Cam gelding owned and trained by Jeff Bamond, Jr., PH Supercam now owns a 4-3-3 slate and $193,000 bankroll from 20 starts this year. He likely will get an invite to the Quillen, along with another Bamond trainee.

Several races earlier on the card, Mach It So (Bartlett) won a conditioned race as the 1-4 choice in 1:51.2, capping the score with a 26.4 kicker. Another regular in the Levy and the Open at Yonkers, Mach It So won the Quillen last year and will likely get invited back. But trainers can only have one in the race, so Bamond will have an interesting decision to make next week.

Two others that might arrive for the Quillen finished second and third, respectively, in the Open. Levy hero Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) raced well second over despite being idle three weeks and this Peter Tritton trainee merits serious consideration for the Quillen.

Always At My Place (George Brennan) raced well while third over and could be the best of the Burke brigade now. The five-year-old Always A Virgin gelding has still not regained his stellar form from a year ago, but he appears to be heading in the right direction.

In the finale on the Yonkers card, Foiled Again (Brennan) faded to sixth after a first over bid and the aged warrior appears to have lost the battle with Father Time. A longtime member of the Burke brigade, Foiled Again boasts 88 wins and record earnings of $7.4 million from 265 career starts, but the 12-year-old Dragon Again gelding now seems closer to retirement than making another trip to the winner's circle in the Quillen.

That same evening at Mohawk Raceway in Canada, Resolve (John Campbell) and Hannelore Hanover won their respective Maple Leaf Trot eliminations in 1:51.1 and 1:52, respectively, and appear headed for a titanic battle in the final.

Hambletonian winner Marion Marauder took his Canadian Trotting Classic elim in 1:52, while Bar Hopping upset Southwind Frank to take the other elim in 1:52.4.

Betting Line, the sport's top three-year-old colt pacer rallied from midpack to win the $200,000 Simcoe Stakes by a neck over Lyons Snyder in 1:49.1 for his 11th straight victory since opening is campaign with a second-place finish.