05/13/2010 11:00PM

Gwen Jocson wins benefit race at Pimlico

Barbara D. Livingston
Gwen Jocson rides Honor in Peace to victory in the Legends for a Cure race at Pimlico, featuring eight retired female jockeys.

BALTIMORE - Rarely, if ever, have so many losing jockeys returned with such big smiles. But when seven of them returned safely and enthralled after riding in the Lady Legends for the Cure race Friday at Pimlico, none could hide her glee.

Mary Wiley Wagner, who led to the top of the stretch in the six-furlong race aboard Mass Destruction before fading to fourth in the field of eight, said after dismounting, "Whew, that was fun! I want to do it again. And again. And again."

Gwen Jocson was the winning rider in the Legends, a $30,000 allowance that served to showcase eight women who helped break the barriers of what long has been perceived as a male-dominated profession. Jocson, riding Honor in Peace for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Wesley Ward, sat second early, took command after turning for home, then kept her mount to a steady drive to prevail by 2 3/4 lengths. Chapel of Love rallied late under Andrea Seefeldt Knight to be second, a neck before Rasher, with Mary Tortora Russ up.

Jocson, 43, retired in 1999 after 11 years of riding. The youngest of the Legend jockeys, Jocson now works as an exercise rider in Philadelphia for trainer John Servis of Smarty Jones fame.

Parimutuel wagering was accepted on the Legends, with Pimlico agreeing to match whatever was bet to win on the winning horse - which was $27,770 - as a contribution to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The race served as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for Komen, the world's largest breast cancer organization. Honor in Peace returned $8.60 to win as the co-second choice after finishing in 1:11.46 over a fast main track.

The Legends race will be used as the final scene in the documentary film, "JOCK," which details the struggles of women jockeys such as Barbara Jo Rubin, who in 1969 at Charles Town became the first woman to win a race at a recognized North American track. Rubin, the oldest of the Legends jockeys at age 60, finished sixth aboard Brogue.

The Legends race, run as the fourth of 13, attracted a large and enthusiastic portion of a Preakness eve crowd that turned out on a sunny, muggy afternoon. Fans were lined up eight deep around the indoor paddock and frequently broke into cheers before and after the race in recognition of the women. The women were introduced individually to the Pimlico crowd in a brief ceremony before they convened in the paddock.

Most of the Legends jockeys have remained in the racing industry in various outside capacities, while others have not, including Jennifer Rowland Small, who works as a stockbroker, and Wagner, who works in real estate.