Spicer Cub, who became a YouTube sensation when his behavior in a maiden race at Pimlico Race Course last month went viral, ran without incident in Saturday's opener, a $40,000 maiden special weight at 1 1/16 miles.
The Mary Eppler trainee sprinted to the lead with jockey Xavier Perez and led the race at the half-mile pole before giving way in midstretch to 1-2 favorite Tru Greek and finished 5 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Spicer Cub, the 5-2 second choice, paid $2.40 to place and $2.10 to show. The winner stopped the clock in 1:48.36 and won for the first time in his 12th career start.
“I had trouble sleeping last night,” Eppler said. “I am relieved, very relieved. I told X Man (Perez's nickname) that if he did do anything crazy to pull up. I wanted to make sure everybody was safe.”
In his last race on April 13, Spicer Cub took an early lead but bolted midway on the far turn before 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 winning, losing by a nose to Turbin. The race replay has been viewed more than 116,000 times on YouTube, more than any other race on the Maryland Racing page.
“It was a solid effort,” Perez said. “I was very happy there was a horse outside of me around the far turn because he did look around at the same spot. I can take a big exhale and get on with the rest of the afternoon.”
The starting gate crew took extra precaution this afternoon by moving the gate all the way up the stretch past the finish line after the horses broke from the gate.
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