07/30/2009 11:00PM

The waiting is over for apprentice Wilson


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Apprentice Bradley Wilson won the first race of his career last Sunday at Fort Erie and subsequently went through the initiation ritual all riders must face.

Wilson, 24, had been waiting patiently for his first win through a series of mounts, and when the win finally came he was overjoyed to put it behind him.

"Winston Wilkinson was kind enough to give me my first ride," said Wilson, "and when I placed in that try, I felt confident that the win would come. It took a while but now it is on to the next."

A native of Burlington, Ontario, the personable Wilson began to think about becoming a jockey only three years ago.

"My dad and I were watching a race from Woodbine on TV and he suggested that with my size and weight, I should think of becoming a jockey," said Wilson. "I had never been around horses at all, but decided to see what riding was all about."

After a brief stint at a local riding establishment, Wilson went down to Lexington, Ky., and entered Chris McCarron's North American Racing Academy, a two-year program for prospective jockeys.

"We learned everything about horses, from mucking stalls, to grooming, to riding, and they taught me from the ground up," said Wilson. "It was a great experience."

After 18 months of formal schooling, the academy arranged an internship in Florida for Wilson with the barn of trainer Reade Baker. He moved back up to Woodbine with Baker's stable in early 2009 and completed his internship.

Aboard his fair share of longshots this season as a 10-pound apprentice, Wilson brought a 97-1 shot and a 71-1 shot into the bottom rung of superfectas on Monday, setting up good payoffs. Those kinds of efforts have piqued interest in Wilson.

Additionally, apprentice riders Catherine O'Brien, Melanie Pinto, and Krista Carignan have either lost or will lose their bugs as August begins and that should leave a door open for Wilson with trainers who prefer to give a weight advantage to their horses.

Wilson, who received a congratulatory call from McCarron shortly after his first visit to the winner's circle, also accepted some nice compliments from the track stewards as he sat and enjoyed the next day's sunshine.

"Things are looking up and I am really enjoying the experience and the season," said Wilson.

* Pinto lost her bug this week but has been riding up a storm of late and continues to hold second place in the jockey standings behind Rui Pimentel. There is every indication that she will continue to be a force as she moves to journeyman status.

* The $28,750 Mike Anderson Memorial Cup will highlight the Monday race card. The 1 1/16-mile race is restricted to fillies and mares who have started at Fort Erie two or more times in 2009.