And the fights. I’ve seen everything from slap fights and chest-bumping matches, which occur with greater frequency as race day wears on, to terrifying, bloody, ten-on-one gang-style assaults. The most notorious combatant was Lee Chang Ferrell, who, during the seventh race in 1999, jumped the infield’s fence, ran onto the track, planted his feet into the dirt, and fixed his eyes on the thoroughbreds thundering toward him, poised to duel. As the horses swerved to the rail to dodge Ferrell, he swung his fist and caught jockey Jorge Chavez’s leg. Chavez’s horse, which was toward the front of the pack, turned an ankle and lost pace, while the others sped by untouched. Somehow Ferrell avoided what should have been a certain mauling. In the photograph printed in the Baltimore Sun the next day, he looked almost heroic as he braced to strike the stampeding fleet. A news story published on the day of last year’s Preakness reported that Ferrell has no memory of the encounter.
more from Ben Yaster at Triple Canopy here.