By Mike Paradise
The Illinois bred three-year-old filly trotter with the funny name and overflowing with talent will be Indiana bound later this month. The Curt Grummel stable’s record-breaking champion Funky Wiggle will compete in a trio Hoosier Park stake races sponsored by the Hambletonian Society.
“She deserves a chance to race against some of the good open fillies in her division,” said Grummel. “If I knew she would be as good as she is, I would have nominated her in more stake events.
“She’s been special, doing even more than what I could have hoped for.”
Funky Wiggle, a “lock” to capture her division honors and a strong candidate to go on and be named 2022 Illinois Harness Horse of the Year, was to race in last week’s Open Trot at Springfield but was scratched due to sickness.
“I put her in to keep her sharp, but she got sick,” continued Curt, who also shares ownership of Funky Wiggle with his father Leo and his brother Craig. “There’s been a bug going around the barn. She’s still sick but I’ve got almost four weeks to get her ready for the Pegasus (stake) at Hoosier on the 28th.
“She’ll go next in the track’s Crossroads (Nov. 4th) and again in their Thanksgiving Classic later in November.”
Funky Wiggle will carry a flashy record of nine wins and a second in 11 season starts into her next outing. She’s made $117,531 thus far in her second racing season and is closing in on $250,000 in her career.
The daughter of Lou’s Legacy, out of the Mr Cantab broodmare Hoosier Wiggles, is 17-for-23 lifetime with 4 seconds for her owner and breeder Dr. Patrick Graham Lockridge, Iowa.
Funny Wiggle stunned the Illinois harness racing community, and her trainer, when she rattled off a 1:51.4 winning mile in Du Quoin’s Windy Skeeter stake with her regular driver Kyle Wilfong in late August.
It was the fastest mile ever for a ICF trotting filly and just one fifth of a second behind Kadabra’s all-time record for any Illinois bred trotter.
“The time was totally unexpected,” said Curt. “I thought she could be a 53 trotter but to go as fast as she did was a complete surprise. I did tell Kyle (driver Wilfong) before the race that she warmed-up the best that she ever had.
“Kyle said that day he just let her trot comfortably (on the front end). I was with my dad at the draw gate watching the race.
“When she went 27 and change to the first quarter, I told dad ‘She’s trotting pretty good.’ When she went to the half in 55.2, I started to get excited. They weren’t gaining on her. When she reached the three-quarters in 1:23.2, I said, ‘Holy Moly’ and jumped up and started yelling ‘Let’s go, keep going,’ and she did, coming home in 28 and change and winning by more than nine lengths.”
“Kyle told me that when he saw me waving my arms, I looked like a third base coach waving a baserunner home.
“It was only the second time Kyle ever pulled the ear plugs on the filly. The first was in the Springfield final when she made a break before the start, fell far behind, and still came back and overtook that field.”
Going to the starting gate can be conundrum for the talented filly. In her rare losses she’s gone off stride heading to the gate.
“She’s handy but the gate’s not her friend,” said Wilfong after the filly’s Night of Champions victory.
When Funky Wiggle drew the second tier with the 11-slot in her Night of Champions elimination there was a bit of concern.
“As it turned out she handled it much better starting behind horses than going to the gate,” said Curt looking back on her five-plus length romp.
Not only did Funky Wiggle win the $85,000 Erwin F. Dygert Memorial on Hawthorne’s Night of Champions, but earlier that night her stable-mate Marvelous Mystery captured the $125,000 Fox Valley Flan two-year-old filly trot with Wilfong.
“This year has been some kind of ride,” said Curt.
And it’s not over yet.
Looking for No. 14: Defending ICF aged trotter of the year Talk About Valor is competing Saturday night in Hoosier Park’s $22,000 Open with regular driver Travis Seekman at his lines. The star of the Gerald Hanson stable has won 13 of his 20 season starts.
That’s a Wrap: With the harness racing season over in Illinois over, today’s IHHA story wraps things up for this year.
Hope to rejoin you sometime in 2023.