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Xavier Perez Bravely Handles ‘Wild Ride’ on Spicer Cub

It did not make SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, but Spicer Cub’s eventful trip in Saturday’s 11th at Pimlico Race Course has gone viral and is generating interest outside of horse racing circles.

Spicer Cub

Spicer Cub

The Mary Eppler trainee took the early lead but bolted midway on the far turn before jockey Xavier Perez was able to straighten the son of Louis Quatorze at the head of the stretch. The 4-year old gelding regained the lead at the top of the stretch but bolted again, causing Perez to lose his irons inside the three-sixteenths pole. The duo then raced between the parked starting gate and the outside rail in midstretch and closed determinedly under strong urging to just miss breaking his maiden, losing by a nose to Turbin.

“It was wild. He didn’t give me any warning, especially the second time and went straight for the gate,” Perez said. “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 really close. In fact, Forest Boyce (who was aboard Turbin) congratulated me after the wire.”

The replay of the race on YouTube (click Here) has been viewed more than 13,000 times from 6:30 p.m. Saturday to 3:30 p.m. Sunday and it has been well received on both Twitter and Facebook.

“I have watched the replay many times with my fiancé and I still cannot believe what happened. I am grateful to be here,” added Perez, who has been a regular rider in Maryland since September 2011. “The guys in the room were impressed. When I came back to the jocks room it was funny because nothing bad happened but Mary Eppler was apologizing to me, but this is part of the business. I had ridden him three times before and he never did anything like that before. He is a nice, kind horse.”

Eppler reported Sunday afternoon that Spicer Cub “is fine” with no nicks or cuts from his adventure.

Perez’s remarkable ride and track announcer Dave Rodman’s outstanding call of the race have received plenty of positive attention.

“It was probably the wildest race I have ever called,” said Rodman, who has called races at the major Maryland tracks since March 1991. “It beats the Afleet Alex incident in the 2005 Preakness and tops the guy running on the track (1999 Preakness day). All I could do was keep my eyes on the X-Man (Perez’s nickname) and Spicer Cub. 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.”

The 25-year-old Perez has 480 winners in a career that began in 2007, including a victory aboard Haitian Nation in Sunday’s second race. He finished seventh in the recently completed Laurel Park winter meet standings.

McCue photo