“What fun that was! What a good time!” declared Mary Wiley-Wagner after guiding second choice Mass Destruction to a 6 ½-length victory in the Lady Legends for the Cure II, which featured an accomplished cast of retired female riders, May 20 at Pimlico. A 4-year-old Great Notion gelding, the winner covered 6 ½ furlongs in 1:12.44 in the allowance optional claiming event.
Mass Destruction stalked the pacesetter, favored Stone in Love, who was ridden by Abigail Fuller, before slipping around the leader late on the outside and then pulling away from the eight-horse field. Trained by Donald Barr and owned by Walter Veiser II, Mass Destruction scored his second victory in eight career races.
“We’ve been working with this horse trying to get him to relax,” said Wiley, who had breezed Mass Destruction four times prior to the race. “I felt confident that he (Stone in Love) wouldn’t go all the way. When I was able to get him (Mass Destruction) to sit off that horse and relax, I felt really good—really, really confident. He’s been finishing for me really well in the morning workouts when I can get him to relax early and he learned his lessons well. He’s a big, smart horse and he’s such a pleasure to work with, he really is.”
Wiley-Wagner, the wife of Maryland Jockey Club starter Bruce Wagner, ranked among the country’s top five apprentice jockeys in 1983. She briefly returned to competitive riding in 2010 after participating in the first Lady Legends for the Cure event and finishing fourth while being treated for breast cancer.
“They didn’t let me win, so I needed to get that win,” said Wiley-Wagner of her decision to ride again in the Lady Legends for the Cure this year.
Stone in Love held on for second, finishing a length in front of Alicantino with Andrea Seefeldt Knight aboard. Rock n' Bid, ridden by breast cancer survivor P.J. Cooksey, was another two lengths behind in fourth.
“It was a competitive race,” Wiley-Wagner said. “That’s how come these women made a mark on the industry. It wasn’t because we went out there and pussyfooted around. We’re friends in the (jockeys’) room. We said a prayer together before the race. But on the racetrack it’s every ‘man’ for himself.”
Fuller, who retired from the saddle in 2002, was the first female jockey to sweep the New York Filly Triple Crown, a feat she accomplished with racing Hall of Fame member and champion Mom’s Command in 1985. Fuller’s father, Peter Fuller, bred and owned Mom’s Command.
“It was cool, but it was over so fast,” said Fuller of her Lady Legends debut. “I didn’t so much want the lead as think my horse would be there. He got bumped a little bit leaving the gate—he was just brushed—and I think it kind of ticked him off. He switched leads a couple times like he was pulling me to go. But he didn’t go that fast (while posting fractions of :23.77 and :47.54).”
The Lady Legends for the Cure race was part of The People’s Pink Party at Pimlico the day before the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). The event was a joint effort by Pimlico and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization to raise money for the fight against breast cancer and raise awareness of the disease.