Crescent wins a race without his jockey
Resolute Farms Racing
It is simply NOT the kind of Win Photo a race horse owner or trainer wants in their album…but there it is. RFR Silver Crescent, head up, nostrils flared, mane flying and silver tail streaming out behind, galloping across the finish line at Mt. Pleasant Meadows Race Track…without his jockey! Luckily he didn't do any of the horrifying things riderless horses sometimes do (stop dead in front of four other racing horses, swerve to the right or left, clip another horse’s heels, et cetera) and the Jock was fine, just a bruised ego over having lost his balance on that first leap out of the starting gate.

 Seven days later he raced again and won (with his jockey still aboard) but in the race program in which he was listed as an entry the only (rather laconic) remark about the previous race was, “Lost rider at gate.” It’s literally a one-in-a-thousand occurrence. The jockey who was riding was the best jockey at the track, an experienced rider with excellent hands and better yet, excellent win statistics.

The rule in racing is, “Back gates shut, front gates open.” Generally, however, there is a second or two of delay from the time the last horse loads and everyone is quiet enough for the starter to press the button releasing the front gates. The delay is so common, everybody counts on it; the headers holding the horses’ noses into the front gate so they leap out straight, the jockeys getting that last handful of mane and reins, the gate crew watching to make sure no horse is having last second trouble. I have ridden horses out of the gates and it is one of the single most exciting moments I have ever experienced on horse back. It is an explosion of sound and crowded movement.

Unfortunately, this time there was no delay, not a second, not a half-second, none. The gates sprang open, Crescent jumped out and his jock was left lying on the ground. Crescent, sweetheart that he is, did the right thing, he hesitated and looked back at his fallen rider, but that’s all he did, hesitate. Racing is a game of desire to compete as much as physical ability and Crescent LOVES this game. So much so, that if he gets too far ahead in a race, he deliberately slows down a little to let the competition catch up enough to “make it a real horse race.” He never wins by more than a length. Apparently, to him that’s just not sporting. But win he does and suddenly, those horses were getting away from him. He flipped his head up and took off, weaving his way through the pack. It’s a sight I will never forget. It’s a sight I hope I never see again. I like the finishes where the jockey is still perched securely in the saddle, if you can call those flimsy little pieces of patent leather “saddles”…but, that’s another issue isn’t it?