Wilson's dream comes true

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:57 AM ET

There was a time when Emma-Jayne Wilson dreamt little girl dreams.

She dreamt of being a jockey and of winning races such as the Queen's Plate and even of being famous.

If you didn't know her, you might have laughed at the thought, or smiled at the precociousness of it.

Race tracks are full of dreamers, of course, but Wilson never stopped believing, working and driving herself not just to make it, but to make it big.

If you watched her patient, powerful and precise steer of Mike Fox to win the 148th running of Canada's most famous race yesterday, you saw a superstar of her sport.

In a race that was sullied by as sleepy a group of horses you've ever seen chase a $1- million purse, Wilson's performance stood out.

That she made history in becoming the first woman to win the opening jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown will enshrine Wilson, but it won't define her.

It will confirm only what racing fans have seen here the past 21/2 years -- a clever, hard-riding jockey who won't give an inch to her male counterparts.

Six years ago, Wilson vowed to make it happen and put it down in writing for future reference.

That she stumbled upon that promise on Saturday night, mere hours before her biggest win, was part-omen, part-inspiration for yesterday.

"It was dated Sept. 14, 2001, and it said: 'On this day, I Emma-Jayne Wilson promise to make it as a jockey,'" she said after fighting her way through an adoring crowd among the throngs at Woodbine. "As far as I'm concerned, my dreams did come true when I won my first race. That was glory for me.

"But this is history. Girl power, go for it. First female rider (to win the Plate). I'm just so glad it's the last time it will ever be said."

That's another thing you need to know about Wilson. She's proud to be a woman and is touched by the little girls who look up to her.

But she doesn't want to be known as the best woman jockey, just the best.

The 25-year-old native of Bramalea certainly outsmarted some of Woodbine's best yesterday. Breaking sharply from the outside Mike Fox was settled nicely, sitting off the front-runners in the early going.

In the drive for the wire -- if you could call it that -- Wilson angled her mount from the rail and split between frontrunner Alezzandro and heavily favoured Jiggs Coz.

Working feverishly, her arms pumping Mike Fox's neck, she made the lead just three jumps before the wire, finishing in 2:05.45.

"As far as I'm concerned I was on the best horse," said Wilson of Mike Fox, owned by Oakville's D. Morgan Firestone and trained by Ian Black.

"The last few jumps were unbelievable."

Since she rocked her way on to the Ontario scene in 2005, winning 175 races and $7.4 million in purse earnings, Wilson has been Woodbine's leading rider. So the shock value wasn't that she won, though at odds of 15-1 she helped light up the toteboard quite nicely.

The shock was more that Jiggs Coz could be so listless in the late-going. Or that the field came home in an achingly slow 28 seconds. Or that only eight horses -- equalling the smallest field in history -- were entered in 11/4-mile race.

None of that will be remembered.

Horse power is nice, but girl power works just fine.


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