Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tenacious Emma-Jayne Wilson 'Just Rushing' to Philly Park...

You can’t keep a good jock down.

In the seventh race at Woodbine on August 21st of this year, Flo’s Henny broke down tossing jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson to the track. Wilson, a rugged competitor, walked to the ambulance despite having suffered a lacerated liver. Flo’s Henny had to be euthanized.

Wilson hugs a victorious Magic Broomstick

The veteran jock worked her way back to action on November 17th steering four horses to the winners circle in the week of her return. She finished the meet with 70 wins, good for seventh place in the standings and some $3,884,065 in earnings.

“I feel great,” said Wilson regarding her recovery. “ I felt great once we started and I wouldn’t have started unless I was a hundred percent. I was a little sore when I first started up but that last week was very busy and I had a few achy muscles but other than that it’s been really good. I finished well in the standings and with three months off and still finishing in the top ten, I’m pretty happy with that.”

Wilson and agent Mike Luider

During her time off Wilson kept busy by following one of her favourite Woodbine horses, multiple stakes winner Just Rushing, who at the age of nine was nearing retirement.

“Just Rushing is a horse I’ve been a partner with for the last few years. He’s won quite a few races in his time. I think he’s got about 16 and I’ve been on all of them except for three,” stated Wilson accurately. “We won plenty of races together so I said to the Tucci’s, the owners of Just Rushing, that if they were ever looking to get him a home that I would love to take him off their hands if there wasn’t anyone else they were thinking of. When I was off, I was doing my diligence and asking Mike (her agent, Luider) if he was still in training and to remind his owners that I could still take him home if that was what they wanted.”

The quirky Just Rushing

Wilson enjoyed a great deal of success with the Wild Rush gelding over his six years on the track including stakes wins in the G3 Vigil, the Mt Sassafras and a pair of Labeeb scores to name a few. In 2006, Just Rushing put together a seven-race win streak which included a half dozen pictures with a smiling Wilson in the saddle.

“Last fall, I was riding him in a stake (the 2009 Labeeb) and it was his last start of the year,” recalled Wilson. “The owners were there and they told me they were thinking of retiring him and when they did I could take him home. I was ecstatic. I remember actually dancing in the paddock that day.”

Although the music was playing it wasn't quite the last dance yet.

“The horse ran really well in that last stake,” said Wilson. “He finished second to some really good horses and he was 8 years old at the time. They sent him home for the winter and decided to bring him back and pick their spots with him on the turf.”

Trainer Sid Attard saddled up Just Rushing five times in 2010 garnering a second and a third place showing and modest earnings of $16,939. The earnings boosted the classy fellow over a million dollars lifetime but with no wins during the meet it was time to turn the music up and the house lights on.

“I got a call from Sid one day late in the season and he told me that they wanted to retire him and asked when could they ship him out. I did some more dancing that day” exclaimed Wilson.

Wilson parades Copperelle at a warm Woodbine

The horse Wilson calls “The Russian” retired with sixteen wins, six seconds and seven thirds from 44 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,011,701. He’s an omnisurface star with eight wins on traditional dirt, four wins on the poly and another four on the turf but the only surface he has to worry about now is the comfy bedding in his new stall.

“The Russian is at Kinghaven right now on a lay up,” said Wilson. “He’s up there learning how to be a horse and enjoying his retirement.”

It’s not the first time Wilson has helped out an old friend. Last season Wilson tracked down and retired Belle Gully, a rather non-descript Maria’s Mon gelding who had suffered a series of poor results in lower level claiming events south of the border. The fellow Wilson lovingly refers to as Gus is having a grand old time in retirement.

“Gus is doing very well actually,” chuckled Wilson. “Recently, I was talking to John who used to rub Gus for Julia Carey. His niece Jaclyn was interested in going out and riding him and having fun with him. She’s an experienced rider and been around racehorses. She goes out when she can as she lives about an hour from where Gus is stabled. She’s rode him once or twice already and is taking advantage of a horse in need and playing around with him.”

Wilson with old friend Belle Gully aka Gus

While Gus and The Russian are enjoying life on the farm, Wilson has moved tack to Philadelphia Park (PARX) and will be given a leg up by Woodbine-based conditioner Scott Fairlie in Tuesday’s fourth race (1:40PM EST) aboard Deacons Farm.

It will be Wilson’s first start at the frosty Philly track.

“My injury was a catalyst to do something,” said Wilson, of her decision to continue riding over the winter. "The decision for me to go to Philly would be a location that was closer to home and they have decent purses. In fact, they have probably some of the best purses in the States right now. Plus, I could get a lot busier than I could in the some of the warmer locales so I’m hoping to exploit those opportunities as well. The cold doesn’t bother me so we’ll set up shop there and ride as many winners as possible.”

Wilson wins the 2007 Queen's Plate aboard Mike Fox

Wilson will return to Woodbine for the 2011 campaign and already has her eye on a pair of potential Queen’s Plate horses.

“There’s a couple that have caught my interest that I’m intrigued about,” teased Wilson, who, in 2007, partnered with Mike Fox to become the first female jockey to capture the Canadian classic. “Their next steps over the winter will be the important part and we’ll see how they come back in the spring. They have to prove themselves to the potential they’ve shown me. So I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hopefully I can give you some names next year.”

Emma-Jayne Wilson at the 2010 Queen's Plate Draw with trainers Ian Black and Skippy Bowen

Whether the potential Plate pair prove to be as tenacious as their jock remains to be seen, but the contenders are fortunate to be under the watchful eye of a rider that will remember them when their winning days are over.

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