15 April 2013
I've read lots of articles offering opinions and statistics on which professional sport has the best conditioned athletes. Several of these didn't even consider jockeys. Those that did usually put them at or near the top. Race riders need stamina, balance, strength, coordination, and they need all those packed into a spare body.
Good jockeys need more than physical condition though. Guts. Persistence. Timing. Much more. In the video of the last race at Pimlico on April 13, 2013, Xavier Perez quite possibly shows them all.
I never thought I'd see a 21st Century jockey recover from two bolts and then nearly win a race sitting like a 19th Century rider.
(The video appears at the bottom of the article, but here's a direct link to the race on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FbH3N5VJzBE )
UPDATE: On April 16, Britain's Guardian newspaper posted a minute long clip of this race: "Spicer Cub: Unluckiest Horse Racing Loser Ever? – video." The title suggests someone didn't know much about horses. Luck had little to do with this.
And here's another head-on view of the stretch: "Horse Runs Wrong Way on Homestretch, Almost Wins Race."