Harness racing's Horse of the Year made the most of nearly every month on the calendar.
Three-year-old gelding Wiggle It Jiggleit, who on Thursday was named the Dan Patch Award Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, won his first race of the season in January and continued posting victories through November. In fact, the only month during that span in which he failed to win at least one race was April, when he was given a brief respite before continuing a campaign that concluded Nov. 30 with 22 wins in 26 starts.
Wiggle It Jiggleit, who led all harness racing horses in North America with $2.18 million in purses this season, also was named Pacer of the Year and best 3-year-old male pacer. Wiggle It Jiggleit received 132 of 136 votes for Pacer of the Year. Three-year-old colt Freaky Feet Pete got three votes and 11-year-old gelding Foiled Again got one.
Trotter of the Year went to Pinkman, a 3-year-old gelding who counted the Hambletonian among his 11 wins this season and banked $1.89 million. He also was voted the best trotter in his division. Pinkman received 85 votes for Trotter of the Year. Mission Brief, a 3-year-old filly, finished second with 18 votes, followed by 2-year-old colt Southwind Frank with 14, 5-year-old mare Bee A Magician with 13, 4-year-old gelding JL Cruze with five and 3-year-old filly Barn Doll with one.
In balloting for Horse of the Year, Wiggle It Jiggleit received 130 of 136 votes. Pinkman got three votes while Freaky Feet Pete, Foiled Again, and Mission Brief each got one. Wiggle It Jiggleit's 95.5-percent total of the votes for Horse of the Year is the most for any winner since 1980 when Niatross was one vote shy of unanimous.
Wiggle It Jiggleit's 22 wins this year led all pacers in North America. Prior to Wiggle It Jiggleit, the only pacer to be the season's winningest pacer and receive Horse of the Year was Cam Fella in 1982.
"He's just been an incredible horse," Wiggle It Jiggleit's owner George Teague Jr. said last month. "I don't know of too many horses that can start racing in January when there's snow on the ground and go almost to December and still be this good and competitive. He's a rarity.
"That speaks volumes about this horse and how good he's been. When you create a schedule, it's only a schedule, and you're hoping they can make 80 percent of the engagements. I really never thought he'd make this many, and I supplemented him to two races."
Wiggle It Jiggleit is Teague's second Horse of the Year Award winner. Teague co-owned and trained 2004 Horse of the Year Rainbow Blue. Wiggle It Jiggleit is trained by Teague's longtime assistant Clyde Francis and was driven all season by Teague's 24-year-old son, Montrell.
Among Wiggle It Jiggleit's victories were the Meadowlands Pace, Little Brown Jug, Battle of the Brandywine, Max C. Hempt Memorial, Carl Milstein Memorial, Hap Hansen Progress Pace, and Matron Stakes.
In addition, Wiggle It Jiggleit paced the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old on a half-mile track when he won in 1:49 at Harrington Raceway. His time of 1:48 in winning the Battle of the Brandywine set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding on a five-eighths-mile oval.
Trotter of the Year Pinkman won 11 of 17 races this season, including the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, Kentucky Futurity, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial, and Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial.
His time of 1:51 in the Hambletonian set the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a mile racetrack and his 1:51.3 win in the Beal established the world record for a 3-year-old gelding trotter on a five-eighths-mile oval.
Pinkman is owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman. Pinkman gives trainer Jimmy Takter his seventh Trotter of the Year trophy, and second in a row. Takter previously won three awards with Moni Maker (1998-2000) as well as Malabar Man (1997), Kadabra (2002), and Shake It Cerry (2014).