Horseracing

Who needs a jockey, anyway?

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Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

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Before you ask — no, a horse cannot technically "win" a race without a jockey on its back.

But that doesn’t mean a thoroughbred can’t cross the finish line first without a rider guiding it, and that’s exactly what happened — not once, but twice — Wednesday at racetracks across the country.

The first instance of equine rider emancipation came in the sixth race at New York’s famed Belmont racetrack, where 6-year-old Downtown Hottie bucked her rider as she came out of the gate, then moved to the head of the pack.

The filly remained in the lead throughout the latter half of the race and held off Wholelottashakin, who technically got the win at 1:35.58. The cameraman and the broadcaster did their best to pretend Downtown Hottie wasn’t in the running, but you know who really won:

As if once wasn’t enough, Charles Town racetrack in West Virginia provided us a second instance of a riderless horse sprinting to victory.

In this case, it was Wednesday night’s eighth race that saw Counter Move throw its rider at the start and go on to prove that jockeys are kind of worthless. At least this broadcaster acknowledged Counter Move as being “in the lead” along the back stretch before declaring Thunder Lord the winner:

A riderless horse finishing a race in first isn’t necessarily common but it does happen from time to time. Fort Larned did it at Gulfstream Park in Florida in March, and in 2012, a horse in Australia named Shadowofyoursmile did it, as did Elle’s Vision at Aqueduct in New York.

Actually, this isn’t even the first case of a riderless jockey “winning” at Belmont in recent years. Another filly named Phone Jazz accomplished the feat in 2009.

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal questioned whether horses actually need jockeys, and if Wednesday’s results were any indication, they might be on to something.

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