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Young Montrell Teague Eyeing Meadowlands

Wednesday, July 13, 2011  By: Bill Finley

Young Montrell Teague Eyeing Meadowlands Pace History

He may be young and inexperienced, but driver Montrell Teague is going places. When you are talented, appear to have your head on straight and your father is one of the top trainers in the game, success is preordained. It’s just a matter of time; the only question being how much time.

The waiting period for Montrell Teague, the one from beginner to star, might just get a little shorter Saturday night at the Meadowlands. At 20, he is already the youngest driver to take part in the race, and if Custard The Dragon (Dragon Again) puts in the same kind of effort he put forth a week earlier when winning an elimination race for the Pace, Teague might just become the youngest ever to win what is one of the sport’s most prestigious events. It would be a victory that might just do great things for his career.

“If I thought he weren’t capable I would put a Brian Sears up,” said Teague’s father, George. “I am pretty confident in him and in what he has done so far. One thing I like about him is that he has a lot of confidence in the horse he’ll be driving. I’m not saying the other drivers wouldn’t have given this horse a good chance, but Montrell keeps putting him in the right spots.”

Growing up in a harness racing family, the younger Teague knew early on what he wanted to do. He didn’t have time for a school football team or many other activities associated with a typical teen because he was spending so much time around his father’s stable, but that was OK with him. When he graduated from high school his father let him start focusing full-time on his driving and Teague drove his first race in November of 2009 as an 18-year-old.

He had a good year in 2010, winning 92 races with earnings of $1,397,604. He’s doing even better this year. Through Monday, he had 73 wins and $1,215,391 in earnings.

“Right now, I am still just wishing for the best and hoping my career goes further and further,” Montrell Teague said. “It would be great to win as many big stakes races as a John Campbell but for now I’m just trying to take everything in and take it one race at a time.”

Being the son of George Teague Jr. is a mixed blessing. With his father’s backing he is guaranteed of getting good horses to drive. But skeptics or critics might argue that his success is a result more of his bloodlines than his talent.

“I think he has shown that he can drive with anybody but I still think people look at him as being very inexperienced,” the elder Teague said. “But he is piling up good numbers. Being my son works for him and against him. When people see him driving my horses and doing well they say he’s just doing well because he is my son. On the other hand, driving these horses gives him the chance to drive against the very best drivers and gives him experience. You can learn a lot more driving against good drivers than bad.”

He’s been up to the challenge before. When Custard The Dragon won the $500,000 Hoosier Cup Teague won over Yannick Gingras, Peter Wrenn, Brett Miller, Scott Zeron and others.

“I think he has done a wonderful job putting this horse in the right spots and he can get speed out of a horse as well as anyone,” George Teague said. “And I am not saying that just because he is my son.”

The challenge now for the younger Teague is to impress other trainers with his driving, enough that he can start to pick up quality drives beyond the ones his father gives him.

“It’s been hard because some of the outside trainers only see that I am driving for dad and that he gives me some of the best horses that he has in his stable to drive,” Teague said. “It’s a little bit hard to make the other trainers see what I can do because I am so young. Hopefully, it will come in time.”

Custard The Dragon will have to do his part Saturday to get the win, but this is the type of competitive race where no driver can expect to make a mistake and hope to make it to the winner’s circle. And when your competition includes Jody Jamieson, Brian Sears, Tim Tetrick and other stars you are going to be tested. If nothing else, Montrell Teague will not be intimidated.

“I am definitely confident enough,” he said. “I know I don’t have as much experience as all the other guys but I still have a great horse in front of me that I am driving. That gives me a lot more confidence.”

But he doesn’t think a win will necessarily be a breakthrough moment in his career. Twenty, he figures, is just too young to be able to start pushing aside the Campbells, Tetricks, Millers.

“Honestly, I still think my dad will be the only trainer who’ll be giving me a lot of drives if I win,” Teague said. “If I get chance from another trainer to drive another horse as good as this one I’ll be the happiest person around. Still, nothing wouldn’t be as great as winning this race for my father.”

He may still be a work in prog

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