Saturday, May 21, 2011


BALTIMORE, 05-20-11 --- Emma-Jayne Wilson finished first or second in three of four races to edge Forest Boyce and win the inaugural $30,000 Female Jockey Challenge on Friday at Pimlico Race Course.

A native of Brampton, Ontario, Wilson finished with 28 points, four more than the Maryland-based Boyce. Hayley Turner, who flew in from England to take part in the competition, was third with 21 points.

In special wagering on the four-race Challenge, Wilson paid $21.80 for the win on a $2 bet. The Wilson-Boyce exacta was worth $108.80.

“I’ve been in a couple of these challenges in the past, and it’s always about the draw. Sometimes, you just get lucky,” said the 30-year-old Wilson. “I got lucky. All my horses got a chance to run, and they all ran big races. I’m excited. It’s pretty cool.”

Held in conjunction with the Lady Legends for the Cure Race II, featuring eight retired female riders, the Challenge was part of The People’s Pink Party, a joint effort between Pimlico and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, to help raise money and awareness in the fight against the disease.

Twelve points were awarded for finishing first among Challenge participants, six for second, four for third and three for fourth in the second, fourth, sixth and eighth races. For riders whose mounts were scratched, they were awarded the same points, if any, as the finisher of the post-time Challenge favorite.

Rounding out the finishers were Rosie Napravnik (16 points), Vicky Baze (16) and Chantal Sutherland (13). Baze and Napravnik picked up the other Challenge victories, in the second and fourth races, respectively.

Wilson won the 2005 Eclipse Award and Canada’s Sovereign Award in 2005 and 2006 as champion apprentice jockey. In 2007, she became the first female to win Canada’s version of the Triple Crown, the Queen’s Plate.

“This is nice,” Wilson said. “I like doing things like this, because it puts our game in the limelight. It’s good fun. We come out here a lot of times in big money races and everybody’s out there to win, and that’s what you’re supposed to do. Coming out for something like this, I’m out to win, but on top of that it’s good to hang out with the riders, not just the girl riders. The pressure’s off. To have fun with it and win it, that’s classic.”

Fourth after the first two Challenge races with 10 points, Wilson took the lead in race six, finishing second with Terra Rolla but first across the line among Challenge participants, giving her 22 points, one more than Turner.

Boyce was the first Challenge finisher in the finale on Lucky Romeo, who ran second overall, but Wilson rallied late on 85-to-1 long shot One Sunday to pass the other Challenge riders and pick up six points for second.

“I don’t think any of us aren’t competitive,” Wilson said. “We all wanted to win, and that’s why we’re at the top of our profession. This was really nice. I truly enjoyed it.”

In the spirit of the afternoon, Wilson donated her $10,000 winner’s share to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

“It’s for a good cause,” she said. “We’re all out here to raise money for a good cause, and to put our game out there in the limelight,” she said. “So, if being part of this gets our game out in the limelight and goes for a good cause, why not? They put up a lot of money for this kind of event, and I really respect them for that. This way I can return the gesture right back to them.”

Among the rooting section that drove in from Canada to support Wilson were her parents, Lynne and Jim. In her six-year career, Wilson has won 807 races and more than $38 million in purses.

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a jock,” Wilson said. “My parents always used to say, ‘Follow your dreams and give it 110 percent.’ They know it’s the job that I love, and they know I have a true passion for it. They’re a true inspiration for me.”

The Challenge brought together six riders who have won a combined 5,471 races and $132,426,474 in purses in the U.S., Canada and England.

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