Class Century’s antics in the paddock earned him “a few choice names” but didn’t deter jockey Xavier Aizpuru from getting back on for the win.
Most jockeys want a finish with a bit of dramatic flair, but beginning a race that way isn’t usually a harbinger of good things to come.
For Xavier Aizpuru and Timothy J. Gardner’s Class Century, their inauspicious start ended up just fine—after Class Century tossed Aizpuru to the dirt during a fit of rearing in the paddock, he remounted and rode the horse to first place in the $25,000 maiden hurdle at the Carolina Cup (S.C.) on April 2.
“That made it all worthwhile!” said Aizpuru. “It was the first time I rode the horse, and I knew he could be a little tricky, but I had no idea he was going to do anything like that. I got on him, and we were walking forward, and then all of a sudden he just exploded into life. It really caught me out.”
Despite being a bit “battered and bruised,” Aizpuru, Landenberg, Pa., climbed back on Class Century in the paddock and tried to settle the gelding.
“I let him stand for a minute, and then we got on the course,” Aizpuru said. “Once I had him around other horses, he was fine. I just tried my best to keep him as calm as possible. He’s a huge, huge horse, and they can be very difficult to control. I was worried, because they can waste so much energy before the race.”
The 5-year-old Class Century (Century City—Class Swing, Class Secret), trained by Todd McKenna, ran second in six previous races, and Aizpuru, 36, thought he was primed for a victory in this one.
“I’d seen him run four or five times,” he said. “I knew about the horse, and I knew that he had a real shot in that race just off of what he’d done the previous year. That’s why I was so keen to ride him. Knowing he could be a little tricky, I spoke to the trainer about him before, and we made a plan. I obviously didn’t realize what he was going to do.”
Class Century beat Michele C. Sanger’s Fog Island (Ross Geraghty) by 1 length, and Aizpuru said he’d like the opportunity to sit on Class Century again.
“He was an absolute gentleman in the race. He was relaxed, and he jumped great. When I asked him to run at the end, he gave me everything,” said Aizpuru. “I really shouldn’t complain. I wanted to call him a few choice names before the race, but at the end I was happy with him.”