A Perspective from Bodexpress: The Phenomenon of the Riderless Horse

Imagining what jockey-less horse Bodexpress may have been thinking during his “moment” at this past weekend’s Preakness.

Updated: May 22, 2019 • 7:35 PM ET


The 144th Preakness Stakes may not be remembered for its winner.

I cannot imagine, but I would like to try, what a thoroughbred is thinking the moment when he or she realizes that their co-pilot, the jockey, is not on board. It happens more frequently in horse racing than the casual fan would think, but not as much in major Grade 1 events like the Triple Crown.

Is it a feeling of freedom for the horse? One of concern? Is it a moment of domestic bliss? Or perhaps ambivalence?

Let’s face it, humans can’t speak to horses, and we’ll probably never fully understand them. Then again, some can; mildly at best. That C- movie starring Robert Redford comes to mind.

What was Bodexpress thinking once he summarily dumped Hall of Fame jockey John Velasquez on his rump as he exited the gate during this past weekend’s Preakness at Pimlico Race Course?

Watch the full race here.

Bodexpress might have had a series of thoughts like…

You Might Also Like

“Yeah I beat you last time we met, Bourbon War. I can do it again.”

“Hey Laughing Fox, you weren’t around last time. Why you prancing like that; you’re 22-1?”

“No more Juarez, no more Landeros. Yep, I have Johnny V.”

“Quick horse, quick horse, quick horse, just like Gustavo said.”

“Hey, what’s that sparkly thing over there?”

“You know this gate is uncomfortable. I don’t care for it one bit (horse humor). I’m already agitated after that saddling. Why do they do it out there on the turf course? Then, they always cram us in here. This is no way to treat a horse. Pimlico…what a ridiculous name for a course.”

“Hey Everlast, you may like this, but I don’t. I am not having this.”

“When the gate blows, I’m going to pitch Johnny off. Watch!”

“Man, that was easy. Now, it’s time to run.”

“Hey, wait for me. I’m in this. I’m not getting in my own way.”

“I know that announcer, what’s his name? Collmus? I know he’s going to be calling me that innocuous name, the “loose horse.”

“I am not loose. I’m on the track, and isn’t that where I am supposed to be? This crowd is exhilarating. One hundred twenty-six pounds lighter sure is grand.”

“Those pony boys aren’t going to catch me! This is my moment.”

“Ok, so here is the plan. I’m going to win the Preakness. They have to give me that blanket of flowers, what are they daisies or something? I want my colors on that weathervane.”

“You know what, I’m going to run in the four-path; forget this rail business. Heck, let’s cruise to the center of the course. This is my show, my day!”

“These humans are so controlling with those bridles, blinkers and their bits. I bet they’re going to try to nab me as I come down the stretch. Nope, nope, nope, not having it.”

“I can beat that War of Will, he ran in Louisiana and that doesn’t count. Improbable? His trainer schooled my dad. No big deal. I’m going to take a shot at that 1991 track record!”

“This isn’t working as well as I thought, but I am still in it. I can come from the clouds.”

“Running in this pack makes me feel right at home. Who needs a pilot? I am the pilot!”

“Ha, I see that pony coming. Won’t catch me, that rider in that bright coat. I know my colors.”

“Let’s finish this. I may not win, but I’m going to give this crowd a thrill.”

“This one is for you Max Security. That braggadocio of an owner may not have wanted you to be here, but I am running this one in your name!”

“There’s the wire, come on!”

“Hey, I wanna talk to those people in that room about my placement. What are they called, stewards?”

“Ok, ok. I am fine Vet, take it easy. It’s just a horse race.”

Bodexpress didn’t win the Preakness. In fact, he would be marked with the famous DNF for “Did Not Finish.” They didn’t even record his progress during the 1 mile and three-sixteenths, which was considerable, as he circumnavigated the track.

Even though Bodexpress will become a footnote in horse racing’s history, it’s important to remember that luckily, no one got hurt; Johnny V’s pride and the heartbreak of the horse’s connections, for sure.

Once again, the lure of a riderless horse captivated the audience and proved how special these animals truly are. They don’t require whips to run. Heck, they don’t even need jockeys. What they need is our love, support and care.

Bodexpress ran in the Preakness, but he was more than just a “loose horse” who was entertaining a crowd. Rather, he was a thoroughbred running his heart out because that’s what humans taught him to do.

Can’t we work even harder to learn their language and understand their perspective? In return for their speed and power, don’t they deserve our best?

Disclaimer: The above quotes from Bodexpress were a figment of the author’s mind. They were not meant to be satirical, only an etiolated attempt to understand the mind of the thoroughbred.