When Canadian Emma-Jayne Wilson won the inaugural $30,000 Pimlico Female Jockey Challenge at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland May 20, it was a no-brainer for her to turn around and donate the winner's share to a worthy cause.
The challenge, in which six of the top North American female riders competed, was part of The People's Pink Party at Pimlico. The efforts of Pimlico and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer organization, were combined to help raise money and awareness in the fight against the disease, and it made sense for Wilson to further boost the funds.
Wilson, who is based at Woodbine in Canada and was racing for the first time at Pimlico, scored 28 points to edge Forest Boyce (24 points) to win the competition. Also taking part were Chantal Sutherland, Rosie Napravnik, Vicky Baze, and Hayley Turner.
“Coming around the turn (of the eighth race), I glanced to see who was in front of me because my horse was going to pick it up and run on, and I saw Forrest (Boyce) was up there on the inside, and for a second I thought, ‘I don’t know where she is on the standings,’ ” said Wilson, who rode a 6-year-old gelding named One Sunday to victory in that five-furlong turf contest. “But then it was time to run, so I put my head down, gave it my all, and I got lucky.”
Jockeys earned points for finishing first (12 points), second (6), third (4), and fourth (3) in four races on Friday (the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth).
In addition to winning the eighth race, Wilson finished second twice, and third once for 28 points in the four-dash event.
Wilson, who is also a Sovereign and Eclipse Award winner, explained why she decided to donate the top prize of $10,000 to the Susan G. Komen cause.
“This is what we’re all out here for--to raise money for a good cause--and being a part of this gets our game in the limelight,” said Wilson. “(Pimlico) put up a lot of money for this kind of event and I respect them for that, and this is a way I can return the gesture.”
Wilson, who hails from Brampton, Ontario, and started riding at age 9, said her parents were always supportive of her dreams of becoming a jockey.
“A lot of people come up and say, ‘Emma, I’m your biggest fan.’ But they have to take a backseat to my parents, Lynne and Jim,” said Wilson. “Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a jock, and my parents always said, ‘Follow your dreams, just give it 110%.'
“They respect the game for the injuries and the danger. I went down last August in a pretty bad spill, but they know it’s the job I love and I have true passion for it, and they respect it and have been my biggest cheering section all the way through. They’re the biggest inspiration to me that have pushed me along.”
Since beginning her career in 2004, Wilson has won 807 races from 5,962 mounts and has amassed earnings of $38,306,523.