Maryland Rallies Behind Outrider Kreidel after Post-Preakness Van Accident

Kaymarie Kreidel and Witch Hunter with Preakness winner Seize the Grey
Will Alberts


It was 9 p.m., several hours after the GI Preakness S. last Saturday, when Maryland Jockey Club (MJC) outrider Kaymarie Kreidel was basking in the glow of having escorted Seize the Grey (Arrogate) to the winner's circle after his triumph in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Kreidel, 52, has worked as an outrider since retiring from being a jockey in 2006. She first started part-time in that job during morning training at Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park, then about nine years ago landed the full-time outriding gig for the afternoon races.

With a reputation as a level-headed, well-respected horsewoman, her previous Preakness highlight was deftly catching the loose Bodexpress (Bodemeister) when he dropped his jockey at the start of the 2019 race. But the 2024 edition of the Preakness was her first time drawing the prestigious assignment of accompanying the winner back to the grandstand to be adorned in a blanket of Black-Eyed Susans while 5.5-million viewers looked on via national TV.

Kreidel works with a rotation of three of her own ponies, and the two she employed at Pimlico May 18 are both retired Thoroughbred geldings, the 17-year-old Witch Hunter and the 12-year-old Wolftrap.

Kreidel had already been up since 3 a.m. when she began the post-Preakness haul back to Laurel with her own truck and trailer 18 hours later, and although she was tired, the satisfaction of a long but safe weekend was the only thing riding shotgun with her as she began a 30-mile drive she has made countless times before.

“We had a very good Preakness weekend,” Kreidel told TDN in a Friday phone interview. “Everything was going great. Hunter was so proud, because this is the first time he's taken a Preakness winner. Back in 2019, he was the one who caught the loose Preakness horse. So since this was my first year taking the Preakness winner, I felt like he should have the honor of doing it.”

Midway through her ride home in the dark, Kreidel was approaching a green light on Route 26, and she proceeded through, albeit with caution because the road dipped downward on a hill after the intersection.

“Unfortunately, the car behind me didn't want to wait for my van to get through the light,” Kreidel explained. “So he zipped around me in the left lane and then cut across in front of me to make a right-hand turn. And when he did so, he hit the brakes, causing me to hit my brakes. But with the weight of the truck and we were going downhill, it kind of jerked the trailer a little bit, and Hunter slipped and fell.

“The other car didn't stop,” Kreidel said. “Kept on going. Probably did not realize anything. Probably saw me stop, but since I didn't hit him, he kept on going. But when I stopped I felt and heard the scrambling behind me.

“I put my truck in park, and I jumped out,” Kreidel continued. “When I opened the back door, I just busted out crying, because, unfortunately, Hunter was trapped and getting trampled beneath Wolftrap. They were both panicking. Hunter's scrambling around, Wolftrap's scrambling too, but in the process of doing so he's stepping all over his brother. It was pretty scary and horrific, and I'm all by myself, there's nobody with me.”

Kreidel knew she couldn't safely back the horses out of the rear door because of the way they were positioned.

“I knew my only shot was to open the side door,” Kreidel said. “But in order to do that, I had to be stepping out into traffic. So I needed the traffic stopped so I could get Wolftrap out, get Hunter back up on his feet and get him out, and then assess the damage.”

Perhaps because her stoppage on the side of the road didn't look like an obvious accident scene, no one stopped to help despite numerous vehicles whizzing by.

“So I went around to the side of my trailer, and I'm standing out in the middle of the road. I was waving my arms, just flagging for people to stop their cars. They're driving around, they're yelling at me, telling me, 'Get your drunk ass off the road!' and just saying so many things to me and being so rude. I must have had 50 or 60 cars go by me and not stop.

“And then finally this car stops in the middle of the road,” Kreidel said. “They put their flashers on, a guy gets out, and he walks over and says, 'Can I help you? What's wrong? You look upset.' I said, 'I was just involved with an incident with another car, my horses have fallen, and if I don't get them out, they're going to end up killing themselves inside my trailer.'”

Outrider Kaymarie Kreidel | Jim McCue

Kreidel said the car contained two couples who appeared to be in their mid-20s. They told her they knew absolutely nothing about horses, but that they would do everything they could to help.

First the driver repositioned his car to better block traffic, putting the vehicle in harm's way to do so. One of the women phoned 911, and the others assisted in dropping the ramp of the van.

“I get Wolftrap out. I hand him to that first guy,” Kreidel recalled. “Hunter was all tied up, so his neck was twisted. It looked like his neck was broken, to be honest. But I knew it wasn't because he was screaming. I don't know if you've ever heard a horse scream, but it's horrific.

“He was screaming at the top of his lungs. He's twisted and pinned and he can't get up. I started pulling on his tail and pushing on his shoulder, and I eventually get him up. He scrambles to his feet and goes flying out of the trailer in a panic.”

Eventually, the Good Samaritan driver ended up holding both horses while Kreidel looked them over. Wolftrap appeared okay, she said. But Hunter was bleeding profusely from his left leg.

Amazingly, Hunter and Wolftrap calmed down rather quickly, and they began munching on grass while the stranger held them.

“They were out there grazing, just out in somebody's yard, I don't know,” Kreidel said.

Kreidel phoned her son, the trainer T.J. Aguirre, Jr., who rushed right over.

Because Route 26 is well-travelled by racetrackers, Kreidel said that it didn't take long for a number of people from the backstretch community who were also heading from Pimlico to Laurel to stop when they saw a horse van off to the side of the road.

A veterinarian was among them, all dressed up for a post-Preakness dinner with her significant other. She administered first aid while telling Kreidel that Hunter's wound was dire enough to necessitate a trip to a major equine hospital like New Bolton Center, about 2 1/2 hours away in Pennsylvania.

“Now I'm in an absolute panic. I've got one trailer and two horses, and I've got to go in two different directions,” Kreidel said. “I probably had 20 or 30 racetrack people who were on their way home stopping to help, and everybody's on their phones, and we're all trying to find another truck and trailer than can get to us ASAP.”

Sarah Dilodovico, a Maryland Racing Commission veterinarian, heard what was happening and phoned Kreidel from the track. “I've got my truck. I don't have a trailer. I'm at Pimlico,” she said. “I will find a trailer if I've got to steal somebody's trailer.”

Fortunately, thievery wasn't necessary, as another volunteer, the pony rider Sharon Greenberg, offered the use of her van. The plan ended up being that Aguirre would take Wolftrap back to Laurel in his mom's trailer, while Dilodovico offered to drive Kreidel and Hunter to New Bolton in her truck with the borrowed van.

“During all this process, the two couples that originally stopped to help me, they just disappeared,” Kreidel said. “Once all the other people starting coming to help, they just made their way out of there, and I never got a chance to thank them properly. If it wasn't for those four, I probably would have lost Hunter. They had never been around horses a day in their life. But they stopped and helped me. They saved my horse's life.”

For the long ride to New Bolton, “I rode in the back with Hunter, and I ended up just sitting in the stall, bawling my eyes out,” Kreidel said.

Not only did Dilodovico help by driving, but Kreidel relied on her expertise once they arrived at the clinic, because Kreidel said she had no clue about the medical terms the veterinarians were throwing around.

“Sarah just said, 'I've got this–let's go ahead and do it.”

Hunter had no broken bones, needed stitches for the knee, and was very banged up and bruised, Kreidel said.

“In layman's terms, half of his left knee was kind of like ripped off, so his joint capsules were ruptured inside,” Kreidel said. “Unfortunately, there was not much skin left on his knee, and a lot of it was exposed. If they didn't end up working on it and cleaning it out immediately, I would have had to end up putting him down.”

By Sunday morning, Hunter was moved for observation to New Bolton's orthopedic wing.

“They wanted to keep a close eye on him, because joints are very dangerous, especially knee joints,” Kreidel said. “But so far, knock on wood, as of [Friday], everything is progressing the right way. They'll need about two weeks to make sure no infection sets in.

“As of now, they believe, with time, Hunter will be able to go back to his old job,” Kreidel said.

Wolftrap, Kreidel said, suffered only “minor nicks, minor scratches, nothing deep enough for stitches.”

Kaymarie Kreidel and Witch Hunter, shown catching Bodexpress during the 2019 Preakness | EquiSport Photos

Kreidel, who was not physically injured, is taking some time off from outriding, probably until the Pimlico meet ends and the racing shifts back to Laurel May 31.

“I'm fine. But I'm a little gun-shy, shall we say, about getting behind the wheel of a horse trailer right now,” Kreidel said. “My main thing, that I hope that you can stress when you write this article, is that drivers just need to relax around horse trailers. These aren't just horses behind us. For most us, these horses are like our kids, our livelihoods, our loves. If that car of couples didn't stop, I could have lost my horse, and it would have been like losing my child.”

Beyond the well-being of the horses, money is always a difficult topic in any veterinary emergency, and it was no different for Kreidel when New Bolton informed her how much the care would cost.

“When we got there, they said they needed a down payment of $4,000,” Kreidel recalled. “I kind of panic-laughed at them and said, 'I'm sorry, but I don't have $4,000 to give you. But I'll give you $1,500, because that's what I have on me.'”

But just like the word of mouth to come help with the accident spread fast among the Maryland backstretch community, Kreidel's financial plight also resonated within the MJC's hierarchy.

So it wasn't long before an MJC executive sent Kreidel a text telling her that the MJC would be picking up the cost of Hunter's veterinary bills at New Bolton.

“Kay means so much to us here. It's the least we could do,” Georganne Hale, the MJC's vice president of racing development, told TDN. “It's so expensive just to walk in the door to get good veterinary care.”

Added Kreidel: “New Bolton was estimating $10,000. I personally don't have $10,000. But I would work 20 jobs if I needed to to pay any vet bills for my horses.

“I keep saying a prayer and crossing my fingers to hope that Hunter's recovery stays the positive way that it's going,” Kreidel said. “Because I know Hunter. He loves his job. Literally, when it comes to racing in the afternoons, both Hunter and Wolftrap, when I come out of the tack room with the tack, and they both rear up and scream, like, 'Pick me! Pick me!' So I don't think Hunter would be very happy if I couldn't pick him any more.”

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