Champion jockey and fan favorite Emma-Jayne Wilson, out of action since a spill on Sept. 8, makes her return to racing action with five mounts on Friday, and a stakes engagement on Saturday, at Woodbine.
Sidelined two months ago after suffering a broken left clavicle and fractures to her right hand when she was dismounted, Wilson, who has more than 1,500 career wins, including a Queen's Plate score in 2007 with Mike Fox, saddles up with a handful of rides on Nov. 8.
She'll make her first appearance on Friday in the first race (post time 3:40 p.m. ET). Wilson partners Piccadilly Beau, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred chestnut trained and owned by James Smith. The son of English Channel is listed at 9-2 in the morning line.
Wilson, who won back-to-back (2005 and 2006) Sovereign Awards as Canada's top apprentice, has been counting down the days ahead of her return.
“I'm really excited,” said the rider who has 49 wins on the campaign, placing her sixth in the standings. “There's no other way to put it. It's been odd. The injury (a fracture of the proximal humerus) last year at the beginning of the season was much more consuming, and there was a lot more rehabilitation to get back into action. It was also the first major injury that put me out, where I had to manage a physical ailment. I was out for three months when I had a liver laceration, but once I was cleared to go back, it wasn't like I had to get the muscles working again and be strong. It was just making sure that organ was safe.
“This injury, with the experience of the previous one, it's been much easier to manage, and the severity of it wasn't nearly as bad. I've been able to talk to my surgeons in regards to my expectations to get back, and it's been very straightforward. The last week, I've been pretty excited, getting on horses, and doing my rehab appointments. I don't get excited that much, but I'm pretty excited right now.”
Wilson's also appreciative of the outpouring of support she's received during her time away from Woodbine.
“Social media has been a platform for fans to have direct contact with me. When you watch racing or any sport, you feel as though you can connect with those athletes. I've really enjoyed that because it's given people a direct line to send me those well wishes or encouraging words. I read them all. I either make comments or 'like' them because I want people to know I hear you, and it means a lot. It's really inspiring. The horsepeople have been just as fantastic.”
The same can also be said of Wilson's wife, Laura Trotter, and the couple's twin daughters, Avery and Grace.
“They've been fantastic. I'm really grateful for what my wife and daughters have done for me throughout this. My daughter Grace – as I'm getting better, I've gone from a cast and a sling to no sling, to a brace, to no brace, we've still had to be gentle – when I had gotten clearance to start getting horses, she said to me when we were in the car, 'Mommy, you don't have a boo-boo anymore.' I said, 'No I don't.' She looked at me and said, 'So that means we can wrestle?' That's something the girls and I do. We get down on the floor and wrestle. As simple and as fun as it was, I wasn't able to do that. They're smart and they get it. They knew I had an injury and I couldn't do certain things.
“They like to put their little PAW Patrol Band-Aids on my cast and brace. They want to help mama's injury get better. To hear the enthusiasm in their voices that we can wrestle… it's fantastic. And we've wrestled every night since, for the record.”
One day after her return, Wilson will look to add to her six stakes scores on the season and 103 added-money victories overall when she rides Agnelli (20-1) in the $100,000 Frost King Stakes, a seven-furlong main track event for Ontario-sired two-year-olds.
“Big races and good horses are something you always look forward to. I'm really happy with the season in terms of the stakes. We were on a really big roll, a couple of stakes the week before I got injured. I'm looking to get right back into that groove, right back into that rhythm. It would mean a lot to kick off with a stakes win. Honestly, I'm just happy to be back in the saddle.”
Is there a particular moment she's most looking forward to on Friday?
“Just the whole thing. It's hard to explain. I've been getting on horses in the morning and it's like practice. I'm just looking forward to the day… it's racing. Going out there, putting your colors on – there's a fanfare to it. I'm really looking forward to slotting right back in to where I left off. The groove we had, the way it was going, we were hitting on all cylinders. I don't feel I've been gone that long, so I don't think it's going to be that unreasonable to just fall right back into the swing of things.”
Wilson launched her career in 2004, winning three races and posting 10 top-three finishes from 30 starts. In 2005, she won 175 races, en route to both Sovereign and Eclipse Award honours as champion apprentice.
The multiple graded stakes winning jockey became the first North American female rider to be granted a license to ride in Hong Kong in 2008 and she also captained the Girls Team to an historic victory in the Shergar Cup at Ascot Racecourse in 2015. Wilson was selected as the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award recipient in 2018, which honours significant contributions to the sport of horse racing by a jockey.
As of November 7, Wilson has 1,533 career victories.
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