Jockey, Horse Take Wild Detour at Pimlico, Just Miss Winner's Circle

Michael Dempsey@turfnsportFeatured ColumnistApril 14, 2013

Pimlico was the scene of a wild finish on Saturday
Pimlico was the scene of a wild finish on SaturdayPatrick Smith/Getty Images

In one of the wildest rides you will ever see in horse racing, jockey Xavier Perez and his mount, Spicer Cub, took a very unusual route in the 11th race at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday afternoon, and just missed making it to the winner’s circle.

The four-year-old gelding was making his eighth career start and was sent off as the 2-1 third choice in the $25,000 maiden claiming race.

The gelding grabbed the early lead out of the gate, setting the early pace while off the rail, and then bolted midway around the far turn. Perez managed to get the gelding back under control momentarily and entered the stretch out in the six-path with the lead.

That’s when things got crazy.

Video replay of the race.

The gelding bolted again, causing Perez to lose his irons and control of the horse. Then the gelding went to the far outside rail, racing in between the rail and the starting gate, which was parked on the side of the track.

The cameraman panned outward, but the gelding was nowhere to be found for a few seconds, and then he reappeared after making his way up a narrow gap between the rail and the starting gate and got back into the bit. He rallied strongly and coming up just a nose shy of winning the race in a blanket finish.

“It was wild. He didn’t give me any warning, especially the second time and went straight for the gate,” Perez told The Maryland Jockey Club. “My life went before my eyes for a few seconds. I was thinking about bailing but saw there was enough space between the gate and the rail to get through, so I grabbed his mane and hoped for the best. Once we cleared the gate he re-broke again and almost won the race.”

“It was probably the wildest race I have ever called,” said longtime Maryland announcer Dave Rodman. “I can’t believe he went through that hole between the outer rail and the gate. It was really something else. I really thought he was going to win the race. Xavier did an amazing job. It was certainly a gutsy ride.”

Rodman knows a little something about calling wild races. He was the track announcer on Preakness Day in 1999 when a drunken fan from the infield jumped out on the track in the stretch and took a swing at Artax, who was heading to the wire with the lead.

Spicer Cub came out of the race fine according to his trainer Mary Eppler.