America’s retired pioneering lady jockeys to race one last time

Gender, age and passion collide when eight female jockeys attempt to go from retirement to the winner’s circle in a history-making horse race set to be run on Preakness weekend at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

“Everybody said a race like this could never happen.” –Jason Neff, Filmmaker

On the 40th anniversary of the first female jockey ever to ride in a (US) Triple Crown race, the feature-length film documentary, JOCK is following eight retired female jockeys as they participate in a first of it’s kind Retired Female Jockey Legends race. 

JOCK, from Director/Producer Jason Neff and Emmy Award-winning Producer, Linda Ellman, presents the never-before-told story of the courageous female jockeys who overcame sexual harassment, ridicule and life-threatening injuries to wage a gallant fight for the right to ride more than 40 years ago. They used passion as a weapon in the sexual revolution and paid a price with their lives.

As part of JOCK, Neff and Ellman are documenting the eight retired jockeys as they prepare for the Lady Legends Race for the Cure. The race is being organised by the Maryland Jockey Club and benefits “Susan G. Komen For the Cure,” the world’s largest breast cancer organisation.

It will take place on Black-Eyed Susan Day, Friday 14 May, 2010 at Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Lady Legends Race for the Cure will provide the closing act of JOCK, bringing the stunning journey of the pioneer female jockeys to a conclusion that’s as dramatic as the day it began. Riders include:

Spot the flying pigtails… this photo and above: 
Barbara Jo Rubin, the first woman (who
didn’t hide her gender) to win a race
against men on a recognised race track
in the US in February 1969

• Barbara Jo Rubin, age 60, first woman to win against a man at a recognised racetrack, 41 years ago.

• Jennifer Rowland, 57, top pioneer female rider on the Maryland Circuit in the ’70s.

• Cheryl White, 56, the first African-American female jockey.

• PJ Cooksey, 52, the third all-time leading female jockey with over 2000 wins and breast cancer survivor.

• Mary Wiley Wagner, top 5 apprentice jockey in the nation in 1987 and breast cancer survivor.

• Andrea Seefeldt, Kentucky Derby and Preakness jockey.

• Gwen Jocson, record-holder for the most wins in a single year by a woman.

• Mary Russ Tortora, 56, first woman to win a Grade 1 stakes race.

The oldest in the race, Barbara Jo Rubin – who took up riding aged seven to strengthen her legs, which had been crippled by polio – said, “I can’t believe I’m doing this at 60 and a grandmother (chuckle)!”. Barbara Jo began working out in January with weights. She’s been galloping and will begin breezing this week at Fairmount Park in St. Louis, MO. She says she actually feels pretty good. “Each day I gallop I remember more, but it’s amazing how my body just doesn’t react the way it used to. ”

Mary Wiley Wagner is a breast cancer survivor. She underwent her last chemo treatment in November and is well on her way to being fit to race. She hopes that if “one woman newly diagnosed with Cancer can look at what I am about to accomplish and feel positive about light at the end of treatment, it is worth every single minute I’ve devoted to this”. Mary has been galloping and breezing at Laurel Park in Laurel, MD.

According to Director/Producer Jason Neff, “I’ve watched these women train. They are working hard at getting fit and their competitive spirit is stronger than ever.”

Producer Linda Ellman who Directed and Produced “On Native Soil: The Documentary of the the 911 Commission Report,” which made the short-list for an Oscar nomination, says JOCK is both an action film and an empowerment story: “This race and the film explore what happens when perseverance and passion collide.”

Director Jason Neff is no stranger to the horseracing world. He grew up on a horse farm and at the race track. His uncle (Don MacBeth) and father (Myles Neff) were both jockeys and both of his grandfathers were horse trainers. Says Neff, “It’s always been my desire to recognise these women for what they accomplished and what they had to go through to get there. It’s a classic underdog story that’s historically significant beyond the race track.”

To read more about these remarkable women and other Lady Legends in the race, see


To see the race and the results visit

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