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 12/28/10 - Woodbine jock: I’d take them all if I could : I’d take them all if I could

By Susan Salk on December 28, 2010

Emma-Jayne Wilson hardly looks like a softie.

The 29-year-old jockey, wiry strong and pound-for-pound powerful, appears deeply focused and unfazed by the rush of horses and riders around her.

But during her six years as professional jockey at Woodbine in Canada, Wilson admits she has been so deeply moved by two Thoroughbreds in particular that when their careers ended, she personally took them in.

“I have a connection with them,” she says. “They just pull on your heartstrings.”

Belle Gully, now known as Gus, is a stocky chestnut who was a “champ in his own class,” she says. “He raced at his own level” which wasn’t in the stakes classes, “and he would try every time.

She rode him for several years before he moved to another track. But Wilson kept tabs on him through friends and on the Internet. “At one point a friend checked into his situation and was told he was retired and spoken for,” she recalls. “That was good enough for me. I knew he’d started to get badly beat in bottom-level claiming races, and that didn’t sit well with me. So, I was happy when I heard he was spoken for.”

But in 2009, about nine months after Gus was to have retired, Wilson learned Gus had been raced again, and failed miserably.

“Now I was on a mission to get him,” Wilson says. “When he showed up again in the races, that really bothered me, since he had shown no interest in continuing to run. At this point, I felt I had to take a more aggressive stance to get that horse.”

In July 2009, Gus became the first horse the longtime equestrian and jockey would own outright. And Gus, now ten years old, is enjoying the life of a retired athlete, sleeping a lot in his stall, eating all the food he wants, and loving pasture romps and his favorite hobby—stripping other horses of their blankets.

“I don’t worry about him now,” says Wilson.

Nor is she concerned about her other favorite racehorse, Just Rushing. About two months ago, she decided to buy the million-dollar stakes winner, a horse she rode to 16 of his 18-wins.

Although Just Rushing was in the upper echelons of the sport, and in that sense couldn’t be more different from Gus, both horses affected her deeply.

When she found out that his owners were thinking of retiring him, Wilson did a little dance of happiness in the paddock.

Because contrary to what people may think about jockeys and the horses, there is actually a deep bond connecting horse to rider, she says.

“In this game, it seems to a lot of people that horse racing is just a competition between jockeys,” Wilson says. “It’s not like that. It’s a team sport as far as I’m concerned. And the team includes everyone from the grooms and hot-walkers to jockeys and the horses.”

Growing up as a horsey kid who took weekly lessons starting at age 8, Wilson was eventually drawn to riding racehorses as a way of combining her love for the animals with the necessity of getting a job. After completing an equine program at Kemptville College in Canada, she started work with a horse breeder before training as a jockey.

“For me, I wasn’t drawn to it for the racing. It was the horses. That’s what I loved. To find a job that revolved around horses was ideal.”

She has spent the bulk of her career at Woodbine, where the culture is very strongly infused with Thoroughbred retirement awareness and programs.

“There are a lot of jocks who have done similar things, by either taking a horse, or helping to find a home for one,” she says.

If ever there was a time when she might chastise herself for not doing enough, she remembers the encouragement she got from horse-welfare advocate and Barbaro book author Alex Brown. “He told me that if everybody just does a little bit, it will be a lot,” Wilson says.

“I would take every one if I could. But, I think by doing this little bit, we can all travel far. We can cover a lot of ground” to help racehorses retire.

   12/24/10 - What's Love Got To Do With It?

Courtesy if /www.tripledeadheat.ca

A horse race can run smooth as silk or play out as perilously as the Wild West.

Consider the seventh race at Woodbine on November 21. As the gates burst open, Widmo, a 16-1 long shot reared, throwing jockey Jono Jones to the ground at the start of the mile and a sixteen route. As the rambunctious Widmo rushed after the field outrider Robert Love and his veteran grey, Grouch, were already in full pursuit. Within a matter seconds – in fact, before the field had passed the finish line for the first time, Love grasped Widmo’s reins.

Woodbine outrider Robert Love is the local sheriff of runaway horses

“He grabbed that horse on a long line and you can’t just pull up a horse like that so he had his work cut out for him,” admires Steve Koch, Woodbine’s Vice President of Thoroughbred Racing. “He’s got to do whatever he does to get this horse stopped and meanwhile count on his grey horse to keep a steady course. It’s a potentially dangerous situation.”

As Love and Grouch struggled for control of the runaway horse, Widmo scurried between Dr Grgurich, ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson, and Northern Store under jockey Scott Williams.

“I’m always one to pay attention coming out of the gate and if I hear a “woah…” from the gate crew I usually give a glance left or right just to see if everybody made it out clean,” recalls Wilson. “I saw the loose horse right beside me and I gave the typical shout that there’s a loose horse in the field and the next thing I know I see Rob coming to grab the horse.”

In the arms of Love...Woodbine's outrider makes the catch

It’s a precarious situation but it didn’t phase Wilson one bit.

“It’s no surprise to see Rob coming to grab the horse,” states Wilson. “That’s what he does. He doesn’t hesitate and I think that’s one of the things that makes him such a great outrider.”

With Widmo under a tight hold, Love went to work on slowing down the headstrong animal before the field entered the turn.

“He comes tearing into the field and grabs this horse and I remember watching, just watching, as we’re going into the first turn,” says Wilson with a laugh. “As a jockey, you’re going into the first turn anyway and you have to make sure you’re in good position trying to, as we say, ‘get in or get out’ to avoid a troubled position getting on heels and here is Rob going full tilt into a group of horses. He’s not just wrangling his own pony but dealing with this loose horse. He handled it with such calm, cool and collected composure.”

The field heads to the paddock under the watchful eyes of the outriders

Wilson’s appreciation is not just for the outrider though.

“His pony Grouchie is just a genius,” adds Wilson. “He knew exactly what his dad was asking him to do and he just went about his business.”

It was all a bit matter of fact for Love.

“I was able to get going quick enough and caught the horse right close to the pack,” states Love. “I was closer than I wanted to be but I got a hold of him, kept him straight, and got him out of trouble and stopped.”

* * *

A native of Grand Prairie, Alberta, Love arrived at Woodbine in 2006 and, like a sheriff coming east, has been keeping peace on the track ever since. He’s a quiet man and when moved to sentences of any length, the mustachioed marshal of the track gives most of the credit to Grouch.

“He’s quick. He’s good at his job,” spits Love. “I got him when he was three after he was done racing and I’ve had him ever since. He was a quarter horse in Alberta.”

There’s a wealth of experience in the horseman’s resume.

“I rode for 22 different seasons in the bush tracks in Alberta and BC,” says Love. “I have no idea how many winners. I rode quarter horses, thoroughbreds. Everything.”

When his riding career wrapped up, Love found a new career as an outrider so he could continue doing the thing he loves best - - riding horses.

“I had the same job in Alberta as head outrider at Stampede Park in Calgary and at Northlands Park in Edmonton,” explains Love. “In 2006, I was in touch with Woodbine and I came out to see what it was like out here and I’ve been here ever since.”

Love’s athletic catch of Widmo at Woodbine might have saved the horse his life. Earlier this summer at Hastings Park, just seconds into a race, Private Mambo bucked off her rider, Geovanni Franco, and veered across the track toward the grandstand. The panicked animal crashed headfirst through security barriers and into the winner's circle, where it died on impact.

“We’re out there to catch them and hopefully keep them out of trouble so they don’t bother the other riders,” states Love sternly. “Hopefully we catch them quick enough that that type of accident doesn’t happen out there.”

Love and Grouch on patrol

Nabbing Widmo was one of many great efforts by Love this season. Earlier this year Love and another pony Clyde, a retired thoroughbred formerly named Ada Storm, performed heroics to nab Tequila Max, who reared coming out of the gate and tossed jock Betty Jo Williams to the ground.

Chasing horses can be an exhausting business and Love owns the better part of ten horses that he trains in case Grouch needs a day off.

“Grouch is going to be ten in the spring and I’ve had horses up until they were eighteen,” explains Love. “I own them all. I either board them out or keep them at my own place. We’re always working on new ones and young ones as they have to be replaced sooner or later. I retired two last year.”

Grouchie's got his eye on you...

In addition to training his horses, Love is also in charge of a select group of riders that make up the outrider team including Larry Dagg, Darren Fortune, Eddie Dyer and Amanda Bell.

“Rob and his team have made a long string of strong decisions with best outcomes,” advises Koch. “He’s able to make these maneuvers and pull them off and potentially he’s saving injury and life out there by removing that danger from the field. It’s not just Robert, it’s what Robert has built. Larry Dagg had a miracle catch of his own a few months back. This is a solid team and Robert built that.”

* * *

Catching horses is a full-time gig. Love and his crew are out on the track each day at the crack of dawn patrolling the morning workouts. Their presence is a comfort for all involved.

“The mornings can be more dangerous than in the afternoon,” drawls Wilson. “You’ll get the odd loose one running the wrong direction full tilt at everybody else and to know Rob is going to be there as fast as possible and have that horse wrangled up adds another aspect of comfort.“

Wilson and Southdale find a quiet moment on the hectic Woodbine backstretch

When a horse gets loose during morning workouts a siren will ring out across the backstretch warning the workers of a loose horse.

“When you hear that siren you know that something is happening. Not everyone can move because their horse might not be cooperative,” says Wilson.
“It used to be, “where is he, where is he, where is he…,” adds Wilson of the fear of an on rushing loose horse. “Now it’s ‘does he have him yet’ because you know he’s going to get to that horse really fast and wrangle him up.”

Even the punters in the grandstand benefit from the outrider’s unique skills.

“Anytime we get a loose horse in a race it can be dangerous, not because of inexperience, but because of the speed we are going at,” starts Wilson. “That is where the confidence we have in Rob in the afternoon helps knowing he is going to scoop that horse up. It helps the betting public, as there’s no potential of ruining the race or compromising somebody’s chances to win.”

Wilson quickly offers up a scenario that could save a handicapper from a bad beat.

“What if you have a lone speed horse and there’s no pace in the race?” proposes Wilson. “So, if a horse drops someone coming out of the gate and that other horse that’s loose is now head and head with you, pressing you, and you can’t slow your horse down. Safety is a concern but what if that’s a million dollar race and now your race strategy is messed up. It benefits the owners and the trainers and the betting public to have a good outrider out there in the afternoon.”

Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse concurs with Wilson’s assessment.

“Who knows how many horses’ lives he saves every year by not letting them run loose,” exclaims Casse. “On a couple occasions he could have saved some riders lives - - in the morning and the afternoon. You never know which direction the horse is going to move or who they’re going to hit. By being so quick to catch them it’s just remarkable.”

Trainer Mark Casse sends another horse to the track

Casse offers up a chilling real-life example of how Love and crew helped one of his own horses avert disaster.

“At the beginning of the year I had a horse named King’s Command and he reared right at the start and when he did he hit Corey Fraser’s head knocking him out,” says Casse gravely. “Corey actually stayed on the horse’s back unconscious for three or four strides and then fell off. Love was right there to catch the horse and prevent injury to the horse. Who knows what could have happened. I‘ve been training for 32 years and been to pretty well every major racetrack in North America and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a better outrider.”

Thanks to Love the story has a happy ending.

“He’s (King’s Command) a really nice horse and came back to be second in his next start and won the start after that,” says Casse. “He’s worth a lot of money. If it wasn’t for Love he might not be around.”

While all this gushing is sure to make Love as red as his moustache, there’s no mistaking his talents are appreciated. And even in the precision of his stressful workday, Love finds time to enjoy his job.

He doesn't look grouchie!

“I love International day,” says Love. It’s nice to see good horses and good riders.”

Undoubtedly, from the perspective of those so-called good riders when they see Love on the track, the feeling is mutual.

* * *

This story originally appeared in the December issue of Down The Stretch newspaper.

 12/13/10 - A Tenacious Emma-Jayne Wilson 'Just Rushing' to Philly Park...

Courtesy if /www.tripledeadheat.ca

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.”

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

  11/11/10 Wilson set to return to the races

Courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment

TORONTO, November 11 – Champion jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, who suffered a lacerated liver after a spill at Woodbine in late August, is set to make her return to racing on Wednesday, November 17.  

The two-time Sovereign Award winner and 2007 Queen’s Plate-winning jockey (aboard Mike Fox) was thrown to the Polytrack after her mount, Flo’s Henny, fell heading into the turn for home in the five-furlong race on August 21.  

“We’re taking calls for Wednesday, it’s all systems go,” said Mike Luider, Wilson’s agent. “She breezed four horses this morning and she’s looking forward to getting back to what she loves doing.” 

Wilson, who was Canada’s champion apprentice in 2005 and 2006 (Wilson also won the Eclipse Award as the outstanding apprentice in North America in 2005), was sixth in the Woodbine standings with 60 wins prior to her accident. 

“It’s been far too long,” said Wilson. “But it was necessary. I wish I could personally thank each and every fan for all of their support and concern. I’m very grateful for that.” 

The 29-year-old has 770 career wins, including 41 stakes victories. 

  10/28/10 - Wilson feeling great, looking to return to riding soon

TORONTO, October 28 – Champion jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, who suffered a lacerated liver after a spill at Woodbine in late August, is in training in preparation for her return to riding.  

The two-time Sovereign Award winner and 2007 Queen’s Plate-winning jockey was thrown to the Polytrack after her mount, Flo’s Henny, fell heading into the turn for home in the five-furlong  race.  

"She’s been on the Equicizer (mechanical horse for training, practice or exercise) for the past two days and she feels tremendous,” said Mike Luider, Wilson’s agent. “We are getting a scan done on Monday and if all goes well, Emma will continue to work at getting back to what she loves doing. We’re very optimistic and she can’t wait to get back in the saddle.” 

Wilson, Canada’s champion apprentice in 2005 and 2006 (she also won the Eclipse Award as the top North American apprentice in 2005), was sixth in the Woodbine standings with 60 wins prior to her accident. 

  8/21/10 - Emma-Jayne Wilson spill (update)

Courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment

TORONTO, August 21 – Two-time Sovereign Award winner and 2007 Queen’s Plate-winning rider Emma-Jayne Wilson is in good spirits after a spill during Saturday’s seventh race at Woodbine. 

Wilson, who partnered Mike Fox to victory three years ago in the Queen’s Plate, was thrown to the Polytrack after her mount, Flo’s Henny, fell heading into the turn for home in the five-furlong race. 

She was able to walk to the ambulance after being tended to, and was subsequently taken to a local area hospital.

"It was a nasty spill," said Mike Luider, Wilson's agent. "But she's as tough as carbonite. There's something to be said for jockeys, as a group, about how resilient and tough they are.

"She's in good spirits. She wants to get out of here (hospital) and get some pizza because she's starving. We're doing some precautionary tests and we'll take it from there."

Canada’s champion apprentice in 2005 and 2006 (Wilson also won the Eclipse Award as the top North American apprentice in 2005) was sixth in the Woodbine standings with 60 wins as of August 20.

  8/21/10 - Wilson involved in spill in Saturday's seventh race

Courtesy of Woodbine Entertainment

TORONTO, August 21 – Two-time Sovereign Award winner and 2007 Queen’s Plate-winning rider Emma-Jayne Wilson was involved in a spill during Saturday’s seventh race at Woodbine. 

Wilson, who partnered Mike Fox to victory three years ago in the Queen’s Plate, was thrown to the Polytrack after her mount, Flo’s Henny, fell heading into the turn for home in the five-furlong race. 

She was able to walk to the ambulance after being tended to, and was subsequently taken to a local area hospital.

Canada’s champion apprentice in 2005 and 2006 (Wilson also won the Eclipse Award as the top North American apprentice in 2005) was sixth in the Woodbine standings with 60 wins as of August 20. 

   8/1/11 - Free Fee Lady banks another victory after Wonder Where score

TORONTO, August 1 – Free Fee Lady fought gamely in the final furlong to capture Sunday's $250,800 Wonder Where Stakes at Woodbine, while taking two of three jewels in the Triple Tiara series. 

The 1 1/4-mile turf event is the third race in the Triple Tiara, for three-year-old fillies, foaled in Canada. 

It was also the third consecutive win for Free Fee Lady and second in the series. The daughter of Victory Gallop, who didn’t contest the $500,000 Woodbine Oaks, presented by Budweiser, took the middle race, the $250,000 Bison City Stakes, on July 11, at Woodbine. 

Free Fee Lady was able to wear down 9-1 longshot Bodua, who led the field through early splits of :25.33 and :49.92, and then fend off 15-1 outsider Happy Clapper by a neck. Bodua bested slight favourite Somme by a neck for third. 

The running time, over a 'firm' course, was 2:03.40. 

Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson, who was also aboard for the Bison City triumph, was able to get the Alberta-bred to dig in late.  

"Down the backside, I thought she’d just gallop,” offered trainer Reade Baker. “I thought she’d win easy. But she got a heck of ride to win. They were closing in on her.” 

The Wonder Where was just the fourth start for the Harlequin Ranches silk-bearer, who lost by a neck in her career bow on May 22, before launching her win streak, starting with a 1 ½-length victory at seven panels on the Woodbine Polytrack on June 20. 

Not bad for a horse Baker didn’t initially expect to be a stakes winner. 

“Leroy (Trotman), my assistant, did (have high hopes),” admitted Baker. “I was going to run her for a tag the first time. She only cost $25,000. I didn’t think she was that good. But after her first race, there wasn’t going to be any claiming.” 

Free Fee Lady paid $5.50, $4.40 and $3.90, combining with Happy Clapper ($14, $6.30) for a $63.10 exactor. Bodua ($5.40) completed a $304 triactor. 

 7/17/10 -  'Smokey' can’t bear losing in Bold Venture

TORONTO, July 17 – Smokey Fire bested two of Canada’s most prolific sprinters in his seasonal debut, taking Saturday’s $150,000 Bold Venture Stakes at Woodbine. 

The 6 ½-furlong event was the son of Smoke Glacken’s second consecutive score after winning the Grade 3 Kennedy Road Stakes on November 21 at the Toronto oval.  

Today’s win came over heavyweight speedsters and multiple stakes winners Hollywood Hit and Fatal Bullet, the latter having won the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Bold Venture. 

Hollywood Hit, who was two-for-two this year heading into the added-money race, assumed command from the break, cutting an opening quarter-mile in :21.91 and a half in :43.56, with Fatal Bullet, Canada’s Horse of the Year and champion sprinter in 2008, in pursuit. 

Emma-Jayne Wilson, aboard the Sid Attard-trained Smokey Fire, watched the duo slug it out, before engaging Hollywood Hit in mid-stretch, then going on to post a 1 ¾-length victory in a time of 1:15.78. 

“It set up nicely for my horse and he just came with a big kick late,” said Wilson, who rode the five-year-old grey to victory in the Kennedy Road. “Sid does a good job with his crew. It was a team effort.” 

Attard was understandably pleased with how the race set up for the Mel Lawson bred and owned gelding. 

“It worked out the way I thought it would,” noted Attard. “I told Emma to stay back and make a run and that’s what happened.” 

Smokey Fire now has five wins, three seconds and one third from nine career starts.  

He paid $10.90 for the win, combining with Hollywood Hit for a $23.40 exactor. There was no place, show or triactor wagering.

   7/11/10 - Free Fee Lady upsets Bison City

TORONTO, July 11 - Harlequin Ranches charge Free Fee Lady captured Sunday’s $250,000 Bison City Stakes as the longest shot on the Woodbine toteboard.

Travelling a route of ground for the first time in her three-race career, the daughter of Victory Gallop seized command in early stretch and galloped away, four lengths in front of 1-10 shot Embur’s Song.

Under Emma-Jayne Wilson, Free Fee Lady settled nicely in third behind an early tussle between Embur’s Song and Oil Painting, who was third. Wilson angled the filly to the outside on the turn and she responded strongly.

A Reade Baker trainee, Free Fee Lady covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.02.

The Alberta-bred filly entered the Bison City off a rail-skimming maiden victory over Zinn House Doll, who won decisively on Saturday’s programme.

Free Fee Lady returned $32, combining with Embur’s Song for a $51.90 exactor. Place, show and triactor wagering were not available.

   6/5/10 - Southdale overshadows Eclipse rivals

TORONTO, June 5 – Roderick Ferguson’s Southdale won his second consecutive race and first added-money event, in taking Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Eclipse Stakes at Woodbine. 

The 1 1/16-mile Polytrack event was just the fifth lifetime start for the four-year-old colt, trained by Ian Black and ridden by Emma-Jayne Wilson. 

A son of Street Cry, Southdale prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Stunning Stag, who won the Eclipse Prep on May 14. Fatal Bullet, Canada’s Horse of the Year and Top Sprinter in 2008, was third. 

The Eclipse marked just the second stakes appearance for Southdale, who finished a neck back of eventual 2009 Queen’s Plate champion Eye of the Leopard, in last May’s Plate Trial. 

An injury suffered in the Plate Trial shelved the dark bay for almost a year of racing, but the Ontario-bred proved today he’s back and better than ever. 

“We’ve always been so pleased with Ian, who has trained him so well,” said Ferguson, who also bred Southdale. “He’s been very patient.” 

Southdale, who travelled 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.77, was fourth after a quarter-mile in :25.17 and a half in :49.62. 

A half-length behind champion mutuel favourite Fatal Bullet, who was testing two turns for the first time in his career, at the stretch call, Southdale continued to apply pressure and struck front at the mid-point of the lane. 

“He’s always had such tremendous talent,” offered Black. “We loved him as a two-year-old. He certainly has a future.” 

Southdale, who took a six-furlong ‘Poly’ race on May 8, now has three wins, one second and one third from five starts. 

He returned $8.40, $5.10 and $3.60, combining with Stunning Stag ($6.90, $4.10) for a $59.50 exactor. Fatal Bullet ($3.60) completed a $203.80 triactor.