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After weathering what turned out to be an extended storm of injury issues that kept 2015 Horse of the Year Award winner Wiggle It Jiggleit sidelined for nearly three years, George Teague Jr. is looking forward to seeing his 7-year-old harness racing  pacer continue his comeback attempt in Thursday's $25,000 open at Dover Downs. Wiggle It Jiggle will be making his third start this year, but his first since Sept. 30. The gelding finished second in his 2019 debut at the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio on Sept. 19 and third in the open handicap at Harrington Raceway. Since then, Wiggle It Jiggleit has won twice in qualifiers at Dover, the first in 1:55.1 with a final quarter of :29.3 and the second in 1:54.4 with a final quarter of :27.2. "He's doing good," said Teague, whose George Teague Jr. Inc. shares ownership of Wiggle It Jiggleit with the Teague Racing Partnership LLC. "He was tying up a little bit (leading to his recent time off) and when I got him off that, I qualified him, and he just didn't fire like I thought he should. It turned out his blood was a little off. "The last time I qualified him he seemed to be a lot more like himself. Not totally like he was in the past, but I still think it's just going to take a little while. I'm hoping he can come back to that status, or close to it. He's going to be fine. We'll see how it plays out." Wiggle It Jiggleit, trained by Clyde Francis, has won 38 of 53 career races and earned $3.91 million. His earnings rank sixth among pacers in North American harness racing history. "At any time, any horse can come up with injuries; unfortunately, he did," Teague said. "It didn't look that bad originally, but one thing turned into another, turned into another, which turned into three years. It is what it is. That was a perfect storm. But every storm blows over. "He still seems like the horse of old, he really does. He doesn't seem any less willing to go. Everything is there, we just have to put the speed back into him, and I don't expect that to come over night. He's sounder than he's ever been and looks great physically. We just have to put the work in and see if he can get a little stronger and a little faster." Wiggle It Jiggleit is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in Thursday's open. Jim Morand will drive Wiggle It Jiggleit, subbing for Montrell Teague, who recently suffered a wrist injury that will keep him in a cast until after Christmas. George Teague Jr. is taking a race-by-race approach with Wiggle It Jiggleit but is hopeful the son of Mr Wiggles-Mozzi Hanover can return to the Grand Circuit in 2020. "I still think it's a possibility," Teague said. "I'm not going to ruin his reputation by putting him in the box when it doesn't look like he should be in. I'm just trying to get a grip on how I think he'll come back and whether he gets back to close enough where I think I can invest a little bit of money in staking him. "I'm not making any definitive plans; I'm just hoping he tells me as we go along. It's tough to get back to where he needs to be without racing against competition. I can qualify, I can train, but none of it is like racing. When he makes it to a point where I think he's showed me enough one way or another, then I'll make my decision there." Racing begins at 4:30 p.m. (EST) Thursday at Dover. The open is race 12, with an 8:10 p.m. estimated post. For complete entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

Dover, DE – The 2015 Harness Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit, is entered to race at Dover Downs on Thursday December 12. Wiggle It Jiggleit drew post four, and will compete in the 12th race Open Pace.  He is trained by Clyde Francis for owners George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. Wiggle It Jiggleit’s accomplishments include the 2015 Dan Patch Horse Of The Year award and victories in the Meadowlands Pace, North America Cup and The Little Brown Jug.  He has bankrolled just under four million dollars in lifetime earnings. The seven-year-old gelded son of Mr Wiggles qualified at Dover Downs recently, pacing the mile in 1:54.4 with a last half mile in :55.4 and last quarter in :27.2  The 12th race Open Pace field includes the following horses: 1. Dragonology 2. Asap Hanover 3. Larry Karr 4. Wiggle It Jiggleit 5  Rock Lights 6. Billy Badger N 7  Q’s Cruise 8. Bo Mach By Alex Kraszewski, for Dover Downs

CHESTER, PA - 2015 Harness Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit has now made it two of three winning qualifiers as he prepares to make it back to the races after an absence of three years, tallying today in 1:54.1 by 1¾ lengths at Harrah's Philadelphia. Montrell Teague was in his usual spot in the sulky of Wiggle It Jiggleit, directing the seven-year-old altered son of Mr Wiggles to the top and setting fractions of :28.3, :57.2, and 1:26. The winner of $3.9 million had a two length lead at the top of the stretch over Kiwi Ideal N, and basically maintained that advantage to the finish. Clyde Francis trains Wiggle It Jiggleit in the George Teague Jr. stable for the ownership of George Teague Jr. Inc. and Teague Racing Partnership LLC. The plan is for more preparatory work for the horse who has not raced since October of 2016 before he would see any pari-mutuel action and any further decisions would be made on his racing career. From the PHHA / Harrah's Philadelphia

WILKES-BARRE, PA - 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit finished third in his second harness racing qualifier after almost three years away from the races Wednesday morning at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, timed in 1:54.2 after winning his first qualifier back in 1:53.4 at Philly eight days ago. In the Philly race, Wiggle It Jiggleit rallied after sitting third-in for most of the mile. On Wednesday at Pocono, George Teague Jr., who handled "Wiggle" in a charted race for the first time since January of his three-year-old year, has Charlie Norris in the sulky, left with the seven-year-old, making the top after a :28.1 quarter, then going on to register splits of :57.3 and 1:25.2. Regular driver Montrell Teague was at Harrah's Philadelphia for the afternoon race card. Wiggle It Jiggleit was still in command at headstretch, but through the lane he was passed by Geez Joe and Stormont Czar A in a 1:53.4 mile, winding up 2½ lengths back in third. George Teague: "I feel OK about him. We'll have to do some more work with him, get some more fitness in him. It'll be at least three or four weeks before he'll be ready to compete. We plan for a couple more qualifiers for him." Before the qualifier, trainer Clyde Francis said he had been pleased by the horse's performance at Philly, and that the goal was to qualify him a couple more times after today, "to see if and where we should race him this year, and also to gauge whether we should stake him for next year." From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

ANDERSON, Ind.--August 10, 2019-- Just when one thought they had seen it all, a first quarter in :24.4, a favorite who looked hopelessly beaten in the stretch came a Phoenix out of the ashes as Lather Up showed what the heart of a champion can do even when a victory seemed out of the question. With a final time of 1:47.2, Lather Up turned in a stunning performance to capture the 26th edition of the $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, August 9. After equaling the World Record with a 1:46 performance two starts ago, Lather Up continued his record-setting trend with a 1:47.2 final time to equal the overall track record at Harrah's Hoosier Park and Dan Patch Stakes record set by Sweet Lou in 2014. The sparks were flying early as Lather Up surged away from the wings of the gate from post four but was forced to settle for a spot along the rail in third as Filibuster Hanover, with Yannick Gingras in the bike, was a step quicker and grabbed the front from post five. Scott Zeron also gave Jimmy Freight marching orders but with everyone on a mission to the front, eventually settled for a pocket trip. As the field straightened away down the backside, Montrell Teague gave Lather Up the green light and he quickly ranged up to grab command just before the half in :53.3. The scorching pace continued as Lather Up led the field through the third station in 1:21.3 but Brian Sears and McWicked were on the attack first-over with Always A Prince and Trace Tetrick in tow. McWicked powered past Lather Up and appeared to be the winner but, Lather Up wasn't finished. In a remarkable rally, Lather Up used a :25.2 final quarter and the inside passing lane to quite literally, pace away from the field. Lather Up finished two lengths to the good while McWicked held on gamely for second. Endeavor and Sam Widger came flying late to round out the trifecta. As the heavy 1-5 favorite, Lather Up returned $2.60 to his backers at the betting windows. "This is one for the books," trainer Clyde Francis said with an ear to ear smile in the winner's circle. "That's an unbelievable animal is what that is." "I love that passing lane," Teague laughed. "I had to wait on him in the last turn and McWicked looked like he had a lot of power but my horse loves to chase. That's his game. Once he got through the turn I knew it was game on." The Teague-Francis duo added their names to the Dan Patch record books for the second time as they were also victorious in the 2016 edition of the race with World Champion, Wiggle It Jiggleit. For Lather Up, he recorded his fourth consecutive victory and eighth win from 11 seasonal starts. The four-year-old Ohio sired, homebred son of Im Gorgeous-Pocket Comb is owned by Gary and Barbara Illes. It was recently announced that 50 percent interest of Lather Up was sold to a group headed by Taylor Made Sales and Stallions. Taylor Made Sales and Stallions also owned the 2018 Dan Patch Stakes winner, Lazarus N. "I want to thank Taylor Made for all they do," Ernie Martinez, working in concert with Taylor Made Sales and Stallions, noted. "Lather Up is unbelievable. I've never seen a horse like this--to do what he just did--he's a beast. Putting him in front of the fans like this is exactly what we want to do. What an effort this horse gave tonight in front of all of these fans." The 26th edition of the Dan Patch Stakes brought life to the track in in several aspects. Racing fans packed the house to witness Harrah's Hoosier Park's signature event and had the opportunity to participate in different promotions throughout the evening. The wagering front also saw much success and offered remarkable value to the horseplayer with full fields and guaranteed wagers throughout the card. Live racing at Harrah's Hoosier Park Racing & Casino will continue on Saturday, August 10 with a 10-race card. The pick-4 sequence went unsolved and with a carryover in excess of $6,000 in hand, Harrah's Hoosier Park will offer a $20,000 Guaranteed Pick-4 for Saturday's live racing card. With a daily post time of 6:30 pm, live racing at Harrah's Hoosier Park will follow a Tuesday through Saturday schedule and be conducted through November 9. by Emily Ratliff, for Harrah's Hoosier Park

East Rutherford, NJ -- The $230,000 Sam McKee Memorial for free-for-all pacers on Saturday (Aug. 3) at The Meadowlands was one more sizzling showcase for Lather Up as the pacer broke the 1-1/8 mile record, winning in a world record 1:59.2.   Driver Montrell Teague wasted no time getting his charge to the top to set fractions of :25.1, :53 and 1:20.2 before receiving a slight challenge from McWicked on the outside, while This Is The Plan rolled on the inside lane.   McWicked attempted to keep pace as the mile mark came up 1:46.3, but he could not stay with This Is The Plan, no less close on Lather Up. The mile marker alone tied the winning mark of Always B Miki at The Meadowlands.   Drawing off, Lather Up broke the nine-furlong win record of 2:00.3, set by Lady Shadow in 2016.   This Is The Plan finished second; McWicked took third.   Teague said, "I was just hoping to be the last one to the front and try to rate the speed as best I can. I saw McWicked come to my side and I was a little nervous, but right when he straightens up off that last turn, it's just like he's leaving out of the gate again. He's unbelievable."   Teague said he is never surprised about a race result. "Anything can happen in a race," he said. "It usually doesn't go as planned as easy as [this race] did."   He said Lather Up going as he did against older horses was "definitely making his point."   Clyde Francis trains Lather Up, whose career earnings are approaching $1.5 million, for owners Gary and Barbara Iles.   by Frank Cotolo, for the Hambletonian Society

HARRINGTON, Del. - George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership's Daiymir ($5.80, Montrell Teague) was a 1:51.3 winner in the featured $18,000 Open at Harrington Raceway Monday. The Clyde Francis-trainee angled off the rail in the stretch and was full of pace, surging by his harness racing rivals impressively for two length length win over Slick Tony and Always The Sun. It was the fourth win of the year for the Mr. Wiggles-Cookie Money colt. The race capped off a pick four sequence that saw four straight horses from post four victorious for an uncommon 4-4-4-4 pick four payoff which paid $58 for the .50 cent base bet. Teague, Mike Cole, Allan Davis Tony Morgan and Ross Wolfenden each had driving doubles. Live racing continues a Monday through Wednesday schedule. Matthew Sparacino

Dover, DE - On a very nice November night, the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund held the second lef of their series at Dover Downs. Montrell Teague drove first leg winner, KEEPMYWIGLEGAMETYT, (Mr. Wiggles-Airtight) gate to wire in 1:56 over runner up JET BAGS JIM in an early non-wagering event. In Race 1 on the betting card Montrell Teague repeated the first race and steered DASHIKI (Barber Pole-Enniskerry) to a neck win over last week’s winner, CHILLAXIN AWAY in 1:53.3 which equaled his lifetime record. Both winners are trained by Clyde Francis and owned by George Teague, Jr. Teague Racing Partnership LLC of Florida is co-owner on DASHIKI. The final will be contested on Thursday, November 29th in conjunction with the Dover Signature event, the “Hap Hansen Progress Pace” named for the late Brandywine Raceway President. Top eight point getters advance to the final. by Judy Davis-Wilson, for the DSBF

HARRINGTON, DE - George Teague Jr.'s Daiymir ($5, Montrell Teague) registered his second straight win Monday in the $15,000 Open at Harrington Raceway in 1:51. The Mr. Wiggles 4-year-old stallion reeled in stretch leader and race favorite Options Are A Dream late for a narrow win. Trained by Clyde Francis, it was his fourth win of the season. The same connections teamed up for a win one race earlier, with GWT ($3.20). Driver Montrell Teague won three consecutive races, as his aunt Brenda Teague's Delaware Chrome ($2.80) was victorious in the third race. Mike Cole, Jim Morand and Art Stafford Jr. each had a driving double. Joe Columbo had a training double. George and Tina Dennis and Nanticoke Racing each had an owner's double. The 4th race was named in memory of popular long-time Delaware horsemen J.D. Dennis. Dennis raced horses for over 60 years along with his wife Nellie, and has two sons (George and Eddie) who are both long time horsemen currently racing in Delaware. Dennis also has another son, J.D. Dennis Jr., and two daughters, Ellen Lee McReynolds and Sandra Robertson. Dennis was also a former board member of Harrington Raceway and the Delaware State Fair. Live racing continues on Monday through Wednesday until October 24. by Matt Sparacino, for Harrington Raceway  

It's been three years since Wiggle It Jiggleit's memorable Little Brown Jug win at the Delaware County Fair, but the race remains a topic of conversation whenever fans approach driver Montrell Teague. And that's more than OK with Teague, who will try for a second Jug trophy Thursday with one of the event's favorites, Lather Up. "I don't mind," Teague said with a laugh. "The first thing they say is you've got a good shot at doing it this year too but congratulations on the last one because it's probably the best one I've ever seen. That always makes me feel good." Teague said he's watched the replay of Wiggle It Jiggleit's victory over Lost For Words a number of times. Wiggle It Jiggleit raced alongside Lost For Words for nearly five-eighths of a mile, fell behind coming off the last turn, and then rallied in the final strides to win by a nose. "I get emotional every time," Teague said. "It was a super, unreal, kind of race. I don't know if any other horse could have done what he did. It's too tough for just a normal horse." The 27-year-old Teague, who was the second-youngest driver to win the Little Brown Jug, will try to find his way to the winner's circle again with Lather Up. The colt, who is trained by Clyde Francis and owned by Gary and Barbara Iles, heads to the Jug with 10 wins in 12 starts this season. His victories include the North America Cup in June and the Ohio Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 8, where he broke his own track record at Scioto Downs with a 1:49.3 mile despite a rain-soaked surface. "It always feels good (to come to Delaware), especially when you've got a shot to win," Teague said. "Even if I'm not in the race, I usually like to come out anyway, hang around and see everybody, because it's a great atmosphere. But it's always a plus to have a horse in it." The Little Brown Jug, which features eliminations and final on the same day, is for 3-year-old pacers and is the third jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. Lather Up is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the first of two eliminations and will start from post one. The top-four finishers from each elimination advance to the winner-take-all final later in the afternoon. Post positions for the final will be drawn based on finishing positions in the eliminations. "At least we've got a good place to start," Teague said. "You can't beat the rail. Anything can happen, but he leaves good, so that makes you feel better. His last two starts were as good as I've ever seen him." The second elimination includes Stay Hungry, who will become the first Pacing Triple Crown winner in 15 years with a victory in the Jug, as well as Meadowlands Pace champion Courtly Choice and Adios winner Dorsoduro Hanover. Courtly Choice, who was supplemented to the race for $45,000, is the 2-1 favorite from post one while Stay Hungry is 5-2 from post four and Dorsoduro Hanover is 4-1 from post five. Dorsoduro Hanover is the richest 3-year-old pacer of the season, with $687,362 in purses. Lather Up is next, followed by Courtly Choice and Stay Hungry. The group is separated by less than $38,000. They have yet to meet in the same race this year. "There are no slouches," Teague said. "All of them are making the money. We've gone different paths, but everyone is just as good as the other one, I think. "It all leads to the Jug." Here are the fields for the $102,720 Little Brown Jug eliminations. The purse for the final will be $436,560. First elimination Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1. Lather Up-Montrell Teague-Clyde Francis-9/5 2. This Is The Plan-Andrew McCarthy-Chris Ryder-8/1 3. Babes Dig Me-Brett Miller-Tony Alagna-3/1 4. Done Well-Tim Tetrick-Brian Brown-7/2 5. Key Advisor-Chris Page-Tony Alagna-15/1 6. Nutcracker Sweet-Jordan Stratton-Jimmy Takter-6/1 7. Wes Delight- Yannick Gingras-Chris Oakes-12/1 Second elimination Post-Horse-Driver-Trainer 1. Courtly Choice-David Miller-Blake MacIntosh-2/1 2. Hayden Hanover-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-10/1 3. Hitman Hill-Brett Miller-Chris Oakes-6/1 4. Stay Hungry- Doug McNair-Tony Alagna-5/2 5. Dorsoduro Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4/1 6. Decoy-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-15/1 NOTES: David Miller leads active drivers with four Little Brown Jug wins. Billy Haughton and Mike Lachance share the record, with five each. Miller is the leading driver in the history of the Delaware County Fair, entering this year with 222 wins...Yannick Gingras has two wins in the Jug, including last year with Filibuster Hanover. The last driver to win in consecutive years was Ron Pierce in 1998-99... Teague is the only other driver in this year's event with a win...The youngest driver to win a Pacing Triple Crown was George Sholty (at age 33) with Romeo Hanover in 1966. Doug McNair is 28. Ron Burke won last year's Little Brown Jug with Filibuster Hanover and the 2014 edition with Limelight Beach. The last trainer to win in consecutive years was Casie Coleman in 2012-13...Billy Haughton has the record for training wins with six, followed by Stanley Dancer with four. Five trainers are tied with three...Clyde Francis won the 2015 Jug with Wiggle It Jiggleit...Jimmy Takter won the 2006 Jug with Mr Feelgood. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

A field of eight of the sports best three-year-old colts and geldings have RSVP'd "Yes" to compete in harness racing's richest Invitational for pacers, the $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial at Northfield Park this Saturday night, August 11. Northfield's Executive Vice President of Racing and Simulcasting, Dave Bianconi, has received commitments from the connections of a diverse and accomplished group of horses, representing sires from six different states and Ontario. They will all converge on the Northeast Ohio oval on Saturday in Northfield's premier event of the season. Headlining the field of eight is Ohio-sired Lather Up, champion of the $1,000,000 (Canadian funds) North America Cup at suburban Toronto's Woodbine/Mohawk Park in June. Lather Up has banked over $500,000 in purses while winning eight of his nine starts thus far in 2018. Lather Up is the only horse in the field that has ever competed at Northfield, including a local victory in Ohio Sires Stakes competition last year. Clyde Francis of the George Teague Stable trains Lather Up for breeder/owners Gary and Barbara Iles of Harrington, Delaware. Fresh off of a breakthrough victory in the $400,000 Adios at The Meadows (near Pittsburgh) Pennsylvania-sired Dorsoduro Hanover enters the Milstein for harness racing's leading trainer in both wins and purses, Ron Burke. Burke recently surpassed the $200,000,000 mark in career purses from his stable, and is a fixture atop the seasonal leader board for trainers in both wins and earnings from his starters. Springsteen, winner of the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono on June 30, enters the Milstein off an impressive score in New York Sires Stakes competition at Yonkers Raceway in his most recent outing. Rene Allard conditions the career earner of $522,048. Jimmy Freight ventures south of the border on the heels of a career best 1:48.3 romp in Ontario Sires Stakes company on August 4 at Woodbine/Mohawk Park. He is now a perfect 4-for-4 in Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events this year. Always A Prince will race outside of Indiana for the first time when he lines up behind the Northfield Park staring gate. A winner of 11 of 13 career starts, Always A Prince crushed the field by over seven lengths in an Indiana Sires Stakes Final in his most recent outing at Hoosier Park on August 1. Multiple Delaware stakes winner Slick Tony will step into Grand Circuit company for the first time in Saturday's Milstein. 80-year-old owner/trainer/breeder George Leager and his wife Nola paid only $500 for Slick Tony's dam, Queen Kathy. Slick Tony has rewarded the Leagers with 15 victories in 19 lifetime starts, and nearly $300,000 in earnings. Making the longest voyage to Northfield is Iowa fair stakes legend Minnie Vinnie. A winner of 18 of 23 career starts, Minnie Vinnie had a profitable voyage east earlier this year when he finished second in the $300,000 Art Rooney Memorial at Yonkers Raceway in New York. Rounding out the Milstein field is the late-blooming Thinkbig Dreambig. Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter sends out the winner of over $125,000 in just nine lifetime starts. The powerful field has combined to win 87 races and $2,769,468 in purse earnings. They certainly arrive at Northfield in top form, as seven out the eight horses in the field were victorious in their most recent efforts. The Carl Milstein Memorial post-position draw will be conducted on Tuesday, August 7. It 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 three-year-old filly pacers. First race post time is 6:00 (Eastern), with the Milstein scheduled for an approximate 10:00 start. by Ayers Ratliff, for Northfield Park

Hightstown, NJ --- After watching Lather Up’s first loss of the season in Saturday’s Max Hempt Memorial, George Teague Jr. is hopeful his team can get the harness racing 3-year-old male pacer back to the form that saw him begin the year with seven consecutive wins, including the North America Cup. Lather Up, the 1-9 favorite in the $500,000 Hempt, went off stride on the final turn as he tried to pass leader Dorsoduro Hanover following a first-over march from fourth place. It was the first time Lather Up ever made a break in a race. The Hempt was eventually won by Springsteen. Teague, who leads a training stable that includes Lather Up’s conditioner Clyde Francis, said the colt scoped sick following the Hempt and also presented driver Montrell Teague with steering issues because of a mouth sore. Teague also was testing to see if Lather Up suffered from muscle cramping. “It was a combination of things, a perfect storm to have a bad night,” Teague said Monday morning. “He got a little bit of an ulcer in his mouth on the right line again. That’s a little bit of an issue, but I don’t think it’s permanent. I think he’ll be fine. We have a little bit of time now to work on him and get him cleared up (from being sick).” Teague was uncertain when Lather Up would make his next start, but ruled out the upcoming Meadowlands Pace, which would have required a supplemental payment to make the horse eligible to start because he had not been staked to the event. “Physically, he’s fine,” Teague said, adding with a laugh, “It was small things; small things that can add up to (losing) a lot of money. That’s horseracing. I can’t change what happened. We’ll just try to fix it and get him back on course. On to the next one.” Lather Up, a son of I’m Gorgeous out of Pocket Comb, has won 11 of 15 career races and earned $544,765 for owners Gary and Barbara Iles, who also bred the colt. He was ranked No. 2 behind trotter Hannelore Hanover in last week’s Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown poll; this week’s poll will be released Tuesday. by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager 

When owner Gary Iles reflects on Lather Up's win in last week's Pepsi North America Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park, he cannot help but feel blessed. Iles and his wife Barbara watched their homebred colt overcome a number of obstacles and horses to reach the top of the 3-year-old pacing ranks with his win in the C$1 million race. "There is one horse a year that gets to do this," Iles said. "I'm 79 years old; I thought I was running out of time. Thank God it worked out and I had my opportunity and we succeeded. I'm humbled by it. I'm humbled by the whole thing. We're very fortunate. "There were 79 horses nominated (to the North America Cup) and 29 started and to think that out of that you end up being the best of the best. It's a wonderful situation. You have to be blessed." Montrell Teague drove Lather Up, the 3-5 favorite, to victory for trainer Clyde Francis and the George Teague Jr. training stable. Montrell Teague and Francis finished second with Wiggle It Jiggleit, the 2-5 favorite, in the 2015 North America Cup. "It made me want it more since I lost it with Wiggles," the 27-year-old Teague said. "It's a million-dollar race, the first million-dollar race I ever won, so to be added to that list and add that to my accomplishments, it feels great." Added Francis, "We went up there with Wiggles and were the best going into the race, but anything can happen. It's horseracing. Going to the final (with Lather Up) I really thought we had a good shot at it. But I wasn't going to say anything before, just keep it to myself. When it was over, it was a great feeling." Iles, Teague and Francis all were happy with Lather Up's trip in the North America Cup, which saw him get to the front in a :26.3 opening quarter, yield the top spot briefly to Done Well, and retake the lead prior to reaching the half-mile point in :54.1. From there, Lather Up led to three-quarters in 1:21.3 before winning by 3-1/4 lengths in 1:48.1. "I got the trip that I didn't expect to get, but the trip that I wanted," Teague said. "I was happy when (Done Well) came and Montrell retook and no one else came," Iles said. "I thought we had a shot at it then because I know (Lather Up) has that good speed coming home. That's the way it worked out. I'm just amazed he has that kick at the end. But you don't take it for granted until he crosses that wire because a lot can happen." Said Francis, "When he moved him back to the front I thought he was in a good spot there because they were going to have to come after him. (At the top of the stretch) I was still pretty confident; Montrell hadn't urged him. When he popped the plugs, it was over. They weren't getting to him. Every start he raced, when they came off the turn and hit the lane he was ready to roll. Everything worked out well." All that remained was a trip to the winner's circle, where the Iles were joined by family and friends. "There were all those (camera) shutters going off and everyone saying, 'Look here, look here, look here.' It was quite amazing," Iles said. "It was a wonderful feeling. I was really thankful for the support we had. "More than that, the horse is down in history. That's something quite exciting." Lather Up will look to remain undefeated in 2018 Saturday when he competes in the third of three Max C. Hempt Memorial eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Lather Up, who is 6-for-6 this season, is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in his elim, which also includes North America Cup runner-up Done Well. The top three finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 Hempt final on June 30 at Pocono. Saturday's card also features eliminations for the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers. "It's a tough field, a very tough field," Iles said about the Hempt. "I'm happy to be there. When you're doing this shipping, a lot of horses come down with some kind of sickness. Fortunately, it hasn't hit us. Hopefully, it doesn't hit anybody. But it's always a concern." "I think he will be all right," Francis said. "He's in with a bunch of the same horses he raced (last) Saturday night. He trained good today and came out of it well. We're just hoping for the best." Following the win in the North America Cup, Lather Up moved up to No. 2 in the sport's weekly rankings, trailing only 6-year-old female trotter Hannelore Hanover, the defending Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada. Lather Up was the only 3-year-old male pacer among the top 14 horses in the poll. "It's still early," Teague said. "Mine looks the most exciting so far, but any of them can step up at any time. That was the first big race, but there are plenty more. You never know who is going to step up. "But so far it's definitely fun. He's looking like the good horse we thought he was going to be. Even more." For Saturday's complete Pocono entries, click here. by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

FAN HANOVER, ROSES ARE RED AND GOOTIMES FINALS

Ask owner Gary Iles about his 3-year-old male pacer Lather Up and he will tell you, "He's got quite a story, no doubt about it." The story, which includes a tricky birth and near-fatal illness, begins with a mistake. How it ends is anyone's guess, but the tale has taken another compelling turn with Lather Up a perfect 3-for-3 in 2018 as he prepares for Saturday's Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Woodbine Mohawk Park and a trip to the North America Cup. Iles and his wife Barbara are longtime horse owners from Delaware. The couple is known for their homebred horses, which usually feature a name referencing Iles' former career as a barber. Lather Up is a son of stallion I'm Gorgeous out of the Iles' homebred mare Pocket Comb. But the Iles intended to breed Pocket Comb to stallion Delmarvalous. A mix up when ordering semen resulted in the now-seemingly serendipitous change of plans, which hinged on Iles' admiration for I'm Gorgeous' sire Bettor's Delight. "I really always liked Bettor's Delight and always wanted to breed to him, I just didn't do it," the 79-year-old Iles said. "So that's how we ended up with I'm Gorgeous." When it came time for Lather Up's birth, there was a complication. Lather Up was in the breech position, which required action from local horsemen Kevin Switzer and Brenda Teague. The two worked together while receiving phoned-in instructions from Switzer's wife, veterinarian Denise McNitt, to prevent a breech birth. Once on the racetrack last year at age 2, Lather Up won three times on the Ohio Sire Stakes circuit, but got sick as he was preparing for the series championship. He suffered a near-fatal reaction to antibiotics, which landed the horse in the New Bolton Center. "He really got off to a rocky start," Iles said. "We came very close to losing him. We got lucky; very, very lucky." Now, though, Lather Up's story involves winning races. The colt, from the Team Teague training stable of George Teague Jr., Brenda Teague and Clyde Francis, made his seasonal debut by beating older horses at Harrah's Philadelphia before a track-record 1:50 win in a division of the Ohio Sire Stakes at Miami Valley Raceway. The win at Miami Valley came on a sloppy track following a lengthy delay because of thunderstorms. Last weekend at Woodbine Mohawk Park, Lather Up prepped for his upcoming stakes engagements by winning in 1:49.1 against older foes. Leaving from post nine, the colt and driver Montrell Teague reached the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter-mile and never looked back, winning by 7-3/4 lengths with a :26.2 final quarter-mile. "He put in a heck of a mile," Iles said. "He wowed me," George Teague Jr. said. "I was a little bit surprised, I'm not going to lie to you, with how he did it. Montrell never popped the ear plugs." Lather Up always showed promise, but steering issues sometimes prevented the colt from peak performance. Teague thinks those issues have been resolved. "He's much better now," Teague said. "I'm happy with that part. He seems to be controllable and very steerable. We made a couple equipment changes and got lucky and hit the target. "We always thought he could be this kind of horse if everything went right, but it hasn't always gone right for him. He's a very smart horse, very good gaited. He's got the tools to do some damage in the 3-year-old ranks. He just needs a little luck and to stay sound and healthy." On Saturday, Lather Up competes in the second of three Somebeachsomewhere Stakes divisions at Woodbine Mohawk Park. If all goes well, a trip to the Pepsi North America Cup eliminations will follow on June 9 at Mohawk. The C$1 million final is June 16. "We're excited," said Iles, who lost his broodmare Pocket Comb -- the producer of eight six-figure earners in 10 foals -- last year at the age of 23. Lather Up was her final offspring. "I'm anxious to see how he does. He's shown a lot of guts and I hope he can continue." And so the story continues. "To say the least," Teague said with a laugh, "it's been very interesting." by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA     

HARRINGTON, Del. - Miss Me Yet ($14.60, Montrell Teague) sprung a mild harness racing upset Tuesday in the $16,000 Mares Open at Harrington Raceway with a 1:53 triumph. Jag Out set the pace with fractions of 27.2, 55.4, and 1:24.1. The field of seven was bunched in the stretch but Miss Me Yet found a seam late to surge by in the final strides for her third win of the year. The 4-year-old I'm Gorgeous mare notched her 11th career win for trainer Clyde Francis and owners George Teague Jr. and Teague Racing Partnership. Newborn Sassy, who had won two straight, rallied for second while Jag Out held on for third. It was one of three wins on the program for Teague. Matthew Sparacino

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