Pincer Movement, Salad Bowl and Crinkle Cut were led from their barns into the tunnel under the crowds, and out again onto the track in front of the grandstand. They walked loosely, casually, used to the limelight. The first sight of the day's princes galvanized the crowds toward the pari-mutuel windows like shoals of multicolored fish.
Piper Boles walked out with the other jockeys to the wire-meshed paddock where horses, trainers and owners stood in groups in the stalls. Boles had begun to suffer from a feeling of detachment and unreality: he could not believe that he, a basically honest jockey, was about to disrupt a Kentucky Derby.
George Highbury repeated, for about the 40th time, the tactics they had agreed on. Piper Boles nodded seriously, as if he had every intention of carrying them out. Actually he scarcely heard a word; he was deaf to the massed bands and the singing when the Derby runners were led onto the track. My Old Kentucky Home swelled the emotions of a multitude and brought out a flutter of eye-wiping handkerchiefs, but in Piper Boles it caused not a blink.
Through the parade, the canter down to the post and even into the starting gate, the detachment persisted. Only then, with tension showing plain on the faces of the other riders, did Boles click back to the present. His heart rate nearly doubled and energy flooded into his brain. Now, he thought. It is now, in the next minute, that I earn myself $1,000; and after that, the rest.
He pulled down his goggles and gathered the reins and whip. He had Pincer Movement on his right and Salad Bowl on his left, and when the stalls sprang open he went out between them in a rush, tipping his weight instantly forward over the withers and standing in the stirrups with his head almost as far forward as Crinkle Cut's.
Past the stands the first time he concentrated on staying in the center of the pack, as unnoticeable as possible, and round the first turn he was still there, sitting quiet and doing little. But down the backstretch, laying about 10th in a field of 26, he earned his thousand.
No one except Piper Boles ever knew what really happened; only he knew that he'd shortened his left rein with a sharp turn of his wrist and squeezed Crinkle Cut's ribs with his right foot. The fast-galloping horse obeyed these directions, veered abruptly left and crashed into the horse beside him—Salad Bowl. Under the impact Salad Bowl cannoned into the horse on his own left, rocked back, stumbled, lost his footing and fell. The two horses on his tail fell over him.
Piper Boles didn't look back. The swerve and collision had cost him several lengths, which Crunkle Cut in the best of times would have been unable to make up. He rode the rest of the race strictly according to his instructions, finishing flat out in 12th place.
Of the 140,000 spectators at Churchill Downs, only a handful had had a clear view of the disaster on the far side of the track. The buildings in the infield and the milling crowds had hidden the crash from nearly all standing at ground level and from most in the grandstands. Only the press, high up, had seen. They sent out urgent queries and buzzed like a stirred-up beehive.
Fred Collyer, on the balcony, watched photographers running to immortalize Pincer Movement and reflected sourly that none of them would have taken closeup pictures of the second favorite, Salad Bowl, down on the dirt. He watched the dark red roses being draped over the winner and the triumphal presentation of the trophies, and then went inside for the rerun of the race on television. They showed the Salad Bowl incident forward, backward and sideways, and then jerked it through slowly in a series of stills.