Bodexpress amused millions around the country for his jockeyless joyride during the 2019 Preakness Stakes. The squirming No. 9 horse had already thrown his jockey John Velazquez off balance in the starting gate, so when the horse took off with a big leap up, as well as forward, his Hall of Famer jockey was thrown to the ground (with no injuries).
How Bodexpress ran the 2019 Preakness without a jockey
The race replays are hallmarked by the bay horse running towards the back of the pack, and his wild (riderless) ride sent shock waves around the internet. After the race, it was announced that Bodexpess had been caught and was in good health. That was made possible by outrider and former jockey Kaymarie Kreidel.
Kreidel rode her first race in 1991 and logged over 2,500 career starts, earning over $3 million by her last race in 2017, according to Equibase. She was aboard Hunter, a former race horse who was retired in 2011 after winning one in five starts and given to Kreidel by Stronach Stables, according to Paulick Report. Together, they work the Maryland race circuit maintaining order for horses and humans a like.
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What is an outrider?
Go to any race track, whether its Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby or your local track on a Wednesday afternoon, and you’re sure to see outriders. They’re even on duty during early morning workouts.
“An outrider’s job is basically like being a police officer,” Kreidel says. “We are in control of the people on the racetrack to make sure everybody follows rules, and we are in control of safety. So if a riders in trouble, we go out and help them assist them in any way: either stopping them or helping them with a horse they cannot steer. And if we have a loose horse, we are first on scene and we react and catch the loose horse if possible.”
There are risks involved, just like any job directly involved with horses. Outriders deal with young, inexperienced and unpredictable horses on a regular basis, so having a reliable mount is crucial.
“I couldn’t be as good of an outrider if I didn’t have the horses to do it,” Kreidel says. “I trust my horses 120 percent. Everything I do, I give my horses 100 percent credit, because without them, I would never be able to do anything that I do.”
How do you catch a loose horse during a race?
Horses are skittish herd animals, so Bodexpress’ training and natural instincts kicked in, and he rocketed out of the gate and kept pace with the pack even without Velazquez.
“Since he was right with the pack of horses, none of us make an attempt to interfere with the race,” Kreidel recounts.
She and Hunter made their first attempt to grab Bodexpress mid-race, but the young and inexperienced horse was already riled up and wasn’t ready to stop.
“We were going for it, and he ducked to the left up behind horses,” she says. “If I go to grab him and he makes a U-turn, he can run into the horses head on, or he can dive toward another rider and get them hurt. So I went, it didn’t look like it was going to pan out right, so I pull out.”
Kreidel says Bodexpress probably clocked in around 40 or 45 MPH during the Preakness, which only heightened their concern for safety.
He went on to cross the finish line and follow other horses as their jockeys were pulling up. On the backstretch, he switched directions before giving Kreidel another shot.
“I made one bid going the wrong way, and he stopped and spun around and took off again,” she says. “When I made the next bid, that’s when I was able to maintain control, grab the horse and stop him.”
After her daring catch, Kreidel was swarmed by reporters and other outriders, but she wasn’t phased.
“I was a jockey for 16 years, and you get excited before you get in the gate, but once you break out, your focus is on winning the race,” she says. “And yeah, I get excited when the lights comes on and I know I’ve got a loose horse to catch, but once I get focused on that horse, it’s all business. My job is to catch the horse.”
Watch the 2019 Belmont Stakes only on NBC and NBCSN. Coverage on NBCSN begins Friday, June 7 at 5 p.m. for the Belmont Gold Cup and continues on Saturday, June 8 at 2:30 p.m. before moving to NBC at 4 p.m. Post time is set for approximately 6:38 p.m. See the full broadcast schedule here.