War of Will may have won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, but the horse everyone likely will remember is Bodexpress.
“I’m getting more press than the winner,” the horse’s jockey, John Velazquez, told CNN on Monday.
Bodexpress threw Velazquez to the dirt immediately out of the gate, but he didn’t stop. The horse ran the entire race, mostly on the outside of the track, with no rider. He continued to run on the track after the race ended and for a while avoided outriders trying to catch him.
Officially, though, Bodexpress was listed as a did not finish (DNF), and Velazquez was not injured.
“He just went around like it was a normal race,” Velazquez said. He later added, “They are born to race, and that’s the way they think, and once those gates open, that’s what they want to do. It’s part of the competition.”
Velazquez said Bodexpress “was not really behaving very well.”
“The second that the horse jumped out the way he did, I knew I was in trouble,” Velazquez said. “First of all, the horse was leaning against the wall, so my right foot was already halfway on my irons. So when he jumped like that and sent me up in the air, actually, he sent me much higher than the saddle. So I was up in the air and I knew that I was in trouble.”
It’s been a bizarre triple crown racing season in 2019.
It started May 4, when Maximum Security led the Kentucky Derby from wire to wire and crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Country House but was disqualified for interference while turning for home. Racing stewards decided that Maximum Security impacted the progress of War of Will, which in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. Country House was declared the winner.
Velazquez was the jockey of Code of Honor, who was awarded second place in the race, and he agreed with the disqualification.
“According to the rules that we have right now, I think once the horse crosses the other horse’s path, that’s the way the rules are,” Velazquez said. “He did win the race, but he needs to be disqualified in everybody’s eyes. Once you cross the path in front of other horses, it’s not allowed. It’s just like driving on the road. If a car passes in front of you, it can cause an accident, and that’s what really happened in that race. Unfortunately, he needed to be disqualified.”
Gary West, the owner of Maximum Security, has sued in federal court to overturn Maximum Security’s Kentucky Derby disqualification.
West made waves again when on the eve of the Preakness Stakes he offered as much as $20 million to the owners of four other horses if they can best his in their next race through the end of the year.
West’s challenge extends to owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. West says he will pay $5 million to the owner of any of those four horses that beats Maximum Security next time around.
“Most experts agree that Maximum Security was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby,” West said in issuing his challenge. “I don’t care to discuss the controversy surrounding the events of the race and the disqualification of my horse at this time, but I firmly believe I have the best 3-year-old in the country and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.”
West asks that the owners of the other horses give him the same amount each if Maximum Security comes out ahead of theirs. He said he would donate any winnings to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
For the first time since 1951, none of the top three finishers of the Kentucky Derby competed in the Preakness. The last time a Derby winner didn’t go on to compete in the Preakness was 1996, when Derby winner Grindstone was injured during the race and retired directly afterward.
The final race of the triple crown, the Belmont Stakes, is June 8 in Elmont, New York.