Strange But True: Death of a Mare

Empress Bullet, a light-gray five-year-old mare, never amounted to very much as a racehorse. In 1981 she was entered in 19 races and won only once. On January 18, 1982, she was entered in the $22,000 Whitestone Purse at Aqueduct Race Track, New York. It was the fiftieth–and last–race of her life.

Shortly after the race began, Empress Bullet threw her rider, Amado Credido, Jr. The jockey wasn’t hurt. The riderless horse continued to race as she had been trained to do.

At the first turn Empress Bullet drew even with Storm Petrel, the lead horse. Gregg McCarron, Storm Petrel’s jockey, realized that Empress Bullet might swerve into the other horses. He reached out and tapped Empress Bullet on the mane to steady her. Later, in the home stretch, he nudged her with the whip again.

Without the weight of a rider, Empress Bullet pulled away and crossed the finish line first. Of course a horse without a jockey cannot win a race. Storm Petrel was declared the winner.

But Empress Bullet did not realize the race was over. She just kept running at top speed. An outrider chased the horse. He forced her to the outside rail, hoping that might stop her.

There was a gap in the metal railing where horses enter the track. With no rider to guide her, Empress Bullet appeared to panic. She ran right into the edge of the protruding railing. The metal pierced her heart and lungs. It was a fatal injury. The horse had to be destroyed humanely, with an injection.

Empress Bullet was not a great racehorse. But she always tried her best, with or without someone to show her the way.

From The Giant Book of More Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

Someone wrote a book about this horse.
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When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.

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