Mon, May 20, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Horsing around: Riderless colt races to Preakness finish


Jockey John Velazquez, left, tumbles to the track after falling off Bodexpress, center, as the field breaks from the starting gate in the 144th Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course in Balatimore, Maryland, on Saturday.

Photo: AP

Unencumbered by a jockey and suddenly free to run wherever he pleased, Bodexpress on Saturday decided to take a shot at winning the Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course.

Taking one of the most memorable trips in the 149-year history of the Pimlico Race Course, Bodexpress followed the leaders without a rider on board and at one point appeared to be a contender in the 13-horse race.

“You’ve got to be careful because some of them try to win,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who saddled race favorite Improbable. “I’ve had horses that try to win. They actually run a great race sometimes.”

From the moment that the frisky three-year-old hopped from the gate, ejecting Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, craziness ensued. Running on his own in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Bodexpress began his obligatory trip around the track, driven either by instinct or the desire to be part of the crowd.

Fortunately, Velazquez quickly rose from the dirt and scooted off the track without injury.

“When the doors opened, I was off right from the start. He kind of jumped sideways,” Velazquez said. “I had my feet out of the irons, so I lost my balance and then, I went off.”

Coming out of the nasty spill with his health was a positive, but the 47-year-old jockey would not soon forget the “ride.”

War of Will, running along the rail, won the Preakness, after becoming entangled with Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby and finishing seventh.

On Saturday the three-year-old colt burst through coming around the final turn and earned jockey Tyler Gaffalione his first Triple Crown race victory.

“He’s got so much heart,” Gaffalione said. “We always knew he had the ability. We just had to get a little bit lucky and today was his day.”

Hard-charging Everfast finished second and Owendale third in the race, the second leg of US thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.

An outrider tried to corral Bodexpress at the top of the stretch, but he was not about to let the horseplay come to an end. The colt sped up and passed a few competitors near the finish line and kept going.

In fact, he ran the entire track again before finally calling it a day — a veritable victory lap for the social media champion who was still trending on Twitter hours later.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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