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.”
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. “Up But Not Over At Carolina Cup” ran in the April 18, 2011 issue. Check out the table of contents to see what great stories are in the magazine this week.