Hightstown, NJ — Within the span of less than a month, Lather Up equaled the fastest mile in harness racing history and became the first pacer to break the two-minute barrier at the distance of a mile and an eighth. So, as driver Montrell Teague prepares for the 4-year-old stallion’s appearance in Friday’s (Aug. 9) $330,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, what does he envision for an encore?
“I don’t know,” Teague said. “Hopefully just win. That’s the main objective.”
Lather Up won last week’s Sam McKee Memorial in 1:59.2 at the extended distance of 1-1/8 miles. He led from start to finish, reaching the mile point in 1:46.3 before going the extra eighth in :12.4.
On July 6, Lather Up won the Graduate Series championship, at the traditional mile distance, in 1:46. The time equaled Always B Miki’s mark for the fastest clocking in history and set the record for a 4-year-old pacer.
It is difficult to determine which of the two efforts was more impressive.
“I’m thinking the one last weekend just because he went (1):46.3 and still had plenty in the tank,” Teague said. “For him to do it so easily, it’s just unreal.”
How fast could Lather Up go?
“I don’t really want to find out,” Teague said. “He’s been so impressive so far, as long as he’s winning, and doing it right in hand, I’m not sure how fast he could actually be.”
Lather Up is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in the Dan Patch Stakes. The stallion, bred by owners Barbara and Gary Iles, has won seven of 10 races this year and $518,448. For his career, the son of I’m Gorgeous out of Pocket Comb has won 22 of 35 starts and $1.48 million.
He will start Friday from post four with Teague at the lines for trainer Clyde Francis, who conditions the horse for the George Teague Jr. training stable.
McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year, is the 5-2 second choice. He will leave from post two with Brian Sears driving for trainer Casie Coleman. The nine-horse field also includes Always A Prince (6-1) and Jimmy Freight (8-1).
“It’s like any other race, you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Montrell Teague said. “There is a lot of speed everywhere; inside, outside, right next to me. At least I’m in a good starting spot where I can see what’s going on before I have to make a decision.”
Lather Up, despite occasional steering issues, won last year’s North America Cup and Ohio Sire Stakes championship for 3-year-old male pacers and has so far made a successful transition this season to the open ranks, with a victory in the William R. Haughton Memorial sandwiched between his two world-record efforts.
“He’s shown he can go with the best,” Teague said. “Even if they head him, he just hits another gear once he gets around that last turn. Fingers crossed, he just keeps on improving. So far, so good.
“He’s going against older horses and definitely making his point.”
Teague, of course, is no stranger to prolific performers. He drove 2015 Horse of the Year Award winner Wiggle It Jiggleit, who has earned nearly $4 million lifetime. Wiggle It Jiggleit, now 7, last raced in 2016 but Teague indicated last week the gelding is still working toward a comeback.
“You would think Wiggle It Jiggleit was one in a million, but then we get Lather Up,” Teague said. “Hopefully they don’t stop coming.”
Racing begins at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) Friday at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. The Dan Patch Stakes is race 11 on the card. Following is the field.
1-Miso Fast-Virgil Morgan Jr.-Ricky Macomber Jr.-20/1
2-McWicked-Casie Coleman-Brian Sears-5/2
3-New Talent-Jeff Cullipher-John DeLong-20/1
4-Lather Up– Clyde Francis-Montrell Teague-6/5
5-Filibuster Hanover-Ron Burke-Yannick Gingras-10/1
6-Jimmy Freight-Andrew Harris-Scott Zeron-8/1
7-Endeavor-Jeff Cullipher-Sam Widger-20/1
8-Rockin Ron-Ron Burke-Matt Kakaley-12/1
9-Always A Prince-Tyler George-Trace Tetrick-6/1