On a cloudy Sunday in mid-March, the fourth race at New York's Aqueduct Racetrack didn't go off quite as planned.
For about 30 seconds, a filly named Elle's Vision lit up the track, blazing out of the gate on little more than natural speed and competitive instinct.
As thrilling as it was, it didn't last. After the first turn, the horse drifted toward the outer rail and the rest of the field blew by. But a video of the incident was remarkable—not so much for the outcome, but for what was missing from the picture: the jockey. Elle's Vision had unseated her rider, Junior Alvarado, while she was still inside the gate. So when the bell sounded, she took off running with nobody aboard.
Under the rules of racing, a horse that loses its rider during a race is either listed as a non-starter or a non-finisher or is automatically listed as coming in last. To the establishment, the idea of a horse crossing the wire alone is just about as preposterous as a jockey trotting to the finish without a mount.