Rook was aboard 7-5 favorite Emosewa for trainer Dickie Small. They were next to last entering the stretch, edged closer to the pacesetters a furlong out, then dove between runners nearing the wire and won by two lengths in 1:15.67. The Smarty Jones filly paid $4.80.
The victory was shades of Pimlico history past, when Rosie Napravnik won aboard her first mount for trainer Small aboard Ringofdiamonds in June 2005. Next week, Napravnik will become the sixth female rider in history to ride in the Kentucky Derby, aboard Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire.
“She is really dedicated,” Small said. “This is what she really wants to do.”
Small has done well with young, female riders such as Napravnik, Andrea Seefeldt, Jerilyn Brown and Forest Boyce.
“I have Dickie to thank for making this happen,” Rook said. “I am just one more person that he truly has given a wonderful start to and taken care of. I am appreciative of the opportunity he has given me. The roster of riders that have worked for him is impressive and I went to him specifically because he is very good at developing young riders.”
Originally from Connecticut, the 24-year-old has bounced around the country in her quest to become a rider. She worked at Mountaineer Park and Colonial Downs then hooked up with Maryland-based conditioner Frannie Campitelli at Pimlico (2007-2008). Her next stop was at Delaware Park with Hall of Famer Jonathan Sheppard before landing the gig with Small last September.
“The idea is to get her started at Pimlico and then go to Colonial to learn. Down there she’ll be able to ride four or five a day,” added Small. “Hopefully she’ll get a bounce from this win and get some mounts in the last few weeks of the meet.”
Rook does not have any mounts Saturday, but is named on two runners Sunday at Pimlico, including 3-5 morning line favorite Girls’ Getaway in the fourth.
Before she returned to the female jockey’s quarters, Rook was ambushed with the traditional good-natured dowsing of water, eggs and talcum powder from her fellow riders, led by Jeremy Rose, Julian Pimentel and Jonathan Joyce, to celebrate her first win.