At the head of the stretch, riding one of the favorites in the most important horse race in the world, jockey Bobby Ussery dropped his whip.
It was an accident, one of those unfortunate things that just happen sometimes, but it could not have come at a worse point in the race for Ussery. The veteran jockey had hustled Dancer’s Image up from dead last in the field of 14, weaving through horses on the final turn like the legendary “Crazy Legs” Hirsch. When a hole opened up on the rail, Ussery cut to the inside toward clear running room. That was when the stick fell from his grasp. One second Ussery had the whip clutched in his right hand, waving it at the horse’s flank; the next second it was gone. Dancer’s Image was in gear, moving fast on the leaders, but the strapping, gray colt still had the pace-setter and the favorite to catch.
And suddenly his jockey had no whip.