Grummel on roller coaster ride with prize trotters

Hinsdale, IL — Harness racing horsemen have long realized that their love of labor can at times be a roller coaster ride. The ups and downs can fluctuate from year-to-year, sometimes drastically, as it did for Illinois trainer Curt Grummel.

In 2022 Curt had himself a season that most horse conditioners can only dream of. His 3-year-old filly trotter Funky Wiggle not only blew away the opposition in her division, but also came away as that season’s ICF Harness Horse of the Year, and deservedly so,

Trainer Curt Grummel has high hopes this season for Funky Wiggle. Four Footed Fotos.

The Lou’s Legacy filly out of the Mr Cantab mare Hoosier Wiggles rattled off eight consecutive victories in her home state including both the $50,000 and $85,000 Beulah Dygert stake championships at Hawthorne, each of the State Fair finals and wowed Illinois racing fans with a 1:51.4 triumph, the fastest ever for a state-bred filly or mare trotter.

Funky Wiggle raked-in $131,235 for her owner and breeder Patrick Graham and Curt was looking forward to racing his prize trotter as a 4-year-old.

Meanwhile her freshman filly stablemate Marvelous Mystery was unbeatable on a limestone-based track, winning 10 times, capturing each of Hawthorne’s Fox Valley Flan $50,000 and $125,000 2-year-old championships while earning $129,722 for the Grummels — sons Curt and Craig, and dad Leo.

Marvelous Mystery’s only first season losses were a pair of second place finishes to her division rival Fox Valley Shania on the one-mile dirt ovals at Springfield and Du Quoin.

While 2023 was another successful campaign for Curt, it turned out to be disappointing as well. Between them Funky Wiggle and Marvelous Mystery made only 11 starts because of health issues.

Marvelous Mystery’s sophomore campaign started out on a very high note. In her fourth start of the year, she rather handily beat a very good state-bred field at Springfield that included 2023 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year Goomster, division rivals Fox Valley Shania and Radiant Diamond, and last year’s Springfield older ICF trotting mare champion Reign And Shine.

However, Marvelous Mystery’s 2023 success was short lived. She only made two more starts for the year.

“She chipped a sesamoid bone, so I had to scratch her out of last summer’s State Fair championships and quit with her for the year,” said Curt. “She’s had a long time off and I feel good about her and “Funky” for the upcoming season. I started back this week with both mares and I’m aiming to get them back racing in July.”

Funky Wiggle made just five trips to the starting gate last year and if Curt had to do it all over again that was two too many.

The talented mare won her 2023 debut at Springfield on July 21. She finished second on the state’s Fairgrounds the last week of July. A week later she was second best at Hoosier Park in a $14,000 trotting series event. However, she never made the $25,000 final seven days later.

“Funky Wiggle had some lameness issues that we were able to take care of as a 2- and 3-year-old but they flared up again last summer. It was a problem with a tendon, so I stopped with her.

“Hawthorne was advertising that their aged mare trot (Carl Becker Memorial) on Super Night would go for $75,000, and that’s a lot of money, so I decided to push her and bring her back six weeks later for the stake. She didn’t race well and finished fourth. If I knew the Super Night purse was going to be only around $40,000, I wouldn’t have brought my filly back and raced her.”

The news regarding the Grummel stable’s trotters wasn’t all negative. The barn’s up and coming trotter Whiskey Lou was voted as the best in the state-bred 2-year-old filly division, but that’s a story for another day.

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