05/18/2012 1:41PM

Pimlico: Small rides Class Rules to win in Lady Legends


BALTIMORE – Of all the new experimental ventures attempted in the game of horse racing, few have been met with the enthusiasm of the Lady Legends for the Cure. Even the losing jockeys exult.

“It’s just great being with these girls, doing everything together, all the hospitality we get,” said Mary Russ Tortora, who Friday was aboard the runner-up, Bellagio, in the third annual Lady Legends for retired female jockeys at Pimlico. “It really is a great event.”

The fourth of 13 races on the Preakness eve card, the Lady Legends drew hundreds of adoring fans onto the Pimlico apron to watch the six-furlong race, which carries parimutuel wagering and is used as a vehicle to raise funds and awareness for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.

Class Rules, the second choice in a field of eight allowance runners, led throughout in a 2 1/4-length victory under 59-year-old Jennifer Rowland Small, a pioneer among women riders on the Maryland circuit in the 1970’s. The winner, owned by Blind Squirrel Racing and based at Laurel Park with trainer Vernon Allinson, returned $8.80 to win after finishing in 1:12.50 over a fast track. Small was met with a big round of applause in a very crowded winner’s enclosure.

“He’s very quick from the gate, well managed and well trained,” said Small, a financial manager who still lives in the local area and was participating in the Lady Legends for the third straight year. “It’s an honor to win. We’ve all been touched by someone who has cancer. This brings a lot of people out, and it’s all for a good cause.”

Pimlico was expected to match the amount of win money wagered on-track as a donation to the Susan G. Komen breast-cancer foundation.

The 2010 Legends race was won by Gwen Jocson, while the 2011 running was won by Mary Wiley-Wagner, whose mount, Fleeter, finished third Friday.

◗ Also held Friday was a jockey challenge that included many of the top active female riders. After the third of four challenge races, Rosie Napravnik already had clinched the victory on the points system in use after winning two races, including the fifth race of the day aboard Share Out at a $46.60 mutuel. Napravnik was the 2-1 second choice behind the 2011 winner, Emma-Jayne Wilson (3-2) after $5,666 was bet into a win pool and $4,758 in exactas.