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Hempt win puts Teague in small group

Wednesday, May 25, 2011  By: Ken Weingartner

Hempt win puts Teague in small group

Montrell Teague is not the youngest driver to win a big-money stakes race, but he is in a small group.

On May 21, the 20-year-old Teague guided Custard The Dragon to victory in the $300,000 Max Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old pacers at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. According to U.S. Trotting Association records, he joined Ryan Anderson as the only drivers under the age of 21 to win an unrestricted stakes race worth at least $300,000. Anderson, also at the age of 20, won the $783,484 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old filly pacers with Popcorn Penny at Mohawk Racetrack in 2000.

“It was amazing,” Teague said about his Hempt win. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve had so far. It’s always more fun when you win a big one. It makes you look good, anyway.”

Teague drove Custard The Dragon for his father, trainer George Teague Jr., who owns the colt with Ted Gewertz, Robert Feldman and Fannin Racing. Custard The Dragon, a son of Dragon Again-Eternal Justice, has won five of eight career starts and $246,908.

Custard The Dragon went off stride in the Hempt elimination race on May 14 and was placed ninth, which was the last spot to qualify for the final. A change in knee boots led to a better performance in the final.

Starting from the extreme outside in post No. 9, Custard The Dragon got away from the gate in second place and followed favorite Powerful Mist until the stretch.

“He was a completely different horse,” Teague said. “He worked out a good trip. He left out of their really good and stayed up on (Powerful Mist’s) back and gave me what he had at the end of the mile.”

Custard The Dragon, who was the favorite in the elimination, was sent off at odds of 10-1 in the final.

“I wasn’t too happy about having the nine hole, but I still didn’t count myself out,” Teague said. “I knew he could leave out of there better than most horses and I always felt he would be one of the better ones in the race no matter what his odds were or what position he had.”

Last year, Teague won two $100,000 Delaware Standardbred Breeder Fund championships with No Bad Luck.

Teague has won 186 races and $2.54 million in his career. This season, he has 58 victories and a career-best .341 driver rating.

Teague hopes the Hempt victory is another step toward a successful career as a driver.

“I had a lot of people say congratulations, so I know a lot of people saw it,” Teague said. “Maybe I’ll get more chances to drive better horses for other people. It’s always good when dad gives me good horses to drive. It gets more known more. I’m just hoping (other people) give me a chance.

“Hopefully, I’ve got a lot more big races ahead of me.”

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