From Northfield Park:
NORTHFIELD, Ohio – If racing fans are looking for a nightcap to Saturday’s Preakness Stakes, Northfield Park has the perfect closing act – the $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie.
Since its inception in 1986, the Battle of Lake Erie has drawn the best veteran pacers the sport has to offer. Past Battle Champions include racing greats Falcon Seelster, Quite A Sensation, Jaguar Spur, Dorunrun Bluegrass, Cambest, Riyadh, Gallo Blue Chip and Maltese Artist.
This year, the Grand Circuit one mile dash for veteran pacers has attracted Wiggle It Jiggleit, last year’s Horse of the Year and winner of the Little Brown Jug,
Freaky Feet Pete, the 2015 Breeders Crown champ, and Foiled Again, the richest horse in the history of harness racing.
Wiggle It Jiggleit has drawn the rail and has been installed as the even-money favorite. Racing for George Teague and Teague Racing Partnership, the 4-year-old gelded son of Mr Wiggles has won 27 of 34 career starts and $2.3 million.
This will be his second trip to the Flying Turns. Wiggle It Jiggleit won last year’s $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial, the track’s premier event, in 1:49.3, establishing a track record for sophomore gelded pacers.
Freaky Feet Pete, who drew the No. 5 post and is the earlybird second betting choice at 2-1, arrives at Northfield with a sparkling record, a winner of 27 of 30 starts and $1.1 million.
The son of Rockin Image will carry a nine-race winning streak to the gate. His start in the Battle will be his first on a half-mile track.
“He trains on a half-mile track at home,” said Marty Rheinheimer, co-owner of Freaky Feet Pete. “I’m really not worried at all about him getting around the track. I think he will take to it just fine.”
Foiled Again will be making an unprecedented eighth consecutive start in the Battle of Lake Erie, a race he has won three times, including last year’s renewal. Now 12, the gelded son of Dragon Again, another Battle winner (2000), has won 86 of 253 starts and a record $7,372,138.
“Every time he steps on the track it’s history, so it’s cool” said trainer Ron Burke.
Foiled Again’s score in last year’s Battle sent his bankroll over $7 million. No other Standardbred has earned as much as $6 million. Ready Cash, a retired trotter, is second to Foiled Again with a bankroll of $5.7 million.
Dave Bianconi, Northfield’s executive vice-president of racing and simulcasting, who put the race field together, believes the Battle lineup is strong enough to threaten the track record.
“They have a shot at breaking it,” he said. “I can see a sub-1:50 mile if the conditions are right.”
A Rocknroll Dance holds the record, a 1:49.1 mile in the 2013 Battle of Lake Erie.
An impressive undercard featuring three $20,000 Opens and three $20,000 late closer finals will support this year’s Battle of Lake Erie.
The Battle of Lake Erie is scheduled as the 11th event on the 15-race program with a first race 6 p.m. post time. A Pick 4 will begin in race eight and offers a $10,000 guaranteed pool, while the Battle will offer a $25,000 guaranteed Superfecta pool.
The 2016 $200,000 Battle of Lake Erie Field:
No. ML Horse Trainer, Driver
1 EVEN Wiggle It Jiggleit Clyde Francis, Montrell Teague
2 8-1 Ideal Cowboy Jeffrey Bamond Jr, Aaron Merriman
3 25-1 Roland N Rock Rob Harmon, TBA
4 10-1 Foiled Again Ron Burke, Joe Bongiorno
5 2-1 Freaky Feet Pete Larry Rheinheimer, Trace Tetrick
6 25-1 Santa Fe Beachboy Brian Brown, Ronnie Wrenn Jr.
7 15-1 Luck Be Withyou Chris Oakes, Dave Palone
8 12-1 All Bets Off Ron Burke, Matt Kakaley