Always B Miki broke the tie with Wiggle It Jiggleit in dramatic fashion to win the $421,000 Breeders Crown for older pacers on Friday night at The Meadowlands.
The race played out mostly as expected with Wiggle It Jiggleit gunning off the wings of the gate to make an easy lead ahead of Always B Miki. Driver Montrell Teague was able to rate through a 27-1/5 opening quarter and 55-1/5 half before Always B Miki pulled the pocket and the race truly began.
In a 27-second third quarter, Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki locked up in a fierce battle. Wiggle It Jiggleit appeared to have the advantage having rated the fractions and having saved the ground along the inside, but 'Miki' was resilient. The pair were in tight quarters through the lane as Wiggle It Jiggleit was clearly bearing out into his foe and had some trouble pacing a straight line. Ultimately it didn't matter.
As the wire approached, Always B Miki surged past Wiggle It Jiggleit and clearly stamped himself as the top older pacer in North America for at least a couple of weeks.
"I'm speechless," said trainer Jimmy Takter in the winner's circle. "People here at the Meadowlands, for entertainment, to see two great horses fighting side by side down the stretch, for me it was one of the best races I've seen."
Driver David Miller heaped praise on Always B Miki. "He's a tough horse. He shows up and he's determined to get his head up there."
Teague was happy with his horse's effort but admitted to have some issues on the track. "I was happy with my horse," said the driver. "My horse got on the left line a little bit and the wind played a factor. Even with all those problems, my horse put in a big effort."
Always B Miki returned $3.20 to win and keyed a short $4.80 exacta with the second choice Wiggle It Jiggleit. Shamballa finished third.
For Always B Miki, owned by Bluewood Stable, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, it was his 11th win in 17 starts this year. The son of Always A Virgin-Artstopper has now earned $1.29 million on the year. The 5-year-old, who also won the Crown for older horses last year, will retire to stud duty at Diamond Creek Farms when his season ends.
While Always B Miki took a four-to-three head-to-head lead over Wiggle It Jiggleit with this victory, both horses are expected to renew their rivalry on November 12 at the Meadowlands in the TVG Final.
"Two weeks from now, I hope everybody will come back to see his last appearance in the TVG," said Jimmy Takter.