When she won Philadelphia's 1991 winter-spring meet with 94 victories, Jocson flew her mom (now married to Glenn Cook, a paramedic) from John's Island so she could stand in the winner's circle beside Gwen at the award ceremony. One hundred and one victories later she tied Robert Colton for the Philadelphia Park summer title; three months later she took the Atlantic City Race Course championship as well, with 41 wins. She was hungry for more.
Jocson decided to capitalize on her momentum and doubled up, riding at Philadelphia Park by day and the Meadow-lands by night. During her first full week after losing the five-pound weight allowance last September, she rode five winners in 36 mounts at Philadelphia and had another two victories in 16 rides at the Meadowlands.
Her future could not have seemed rosier when, on Feb. 6, returning to Garden State Park at the start of a new meet, Jocson was flung from her third mount. She landed on her face and broke her neck, fracturing the atlas, the top vertebra. She was hospitalized for a couple of weeks, then went to her mother's home in South Carolina to recuperate. The doctors told her she would have to wear a special neck brace for at least six to eight weeks. True to her history, she was back at the track galloping horses barely a month later, without the neck brace, ready to resume her career. "I'm a fantastic healer," she says with a grin.
On April 9, at Garden State, she rode her first mount since breaking her neck. As she pulled into the winner's circle after an 8�-length victory aboard Imallkeyedup, the railbirds cheered and called out, "Welcome back."
"This is great," said Jocson as she dismounted. "It felt so good to be back out there. I can't explain it. It feels nice to be out there in the morning working horses. But you have to have the silks on and go into the gate to realize how great it is to ride in a race."
Philadelphia's top trainer, Mark Reid, says, "I've seen so many like her—Julie Krone, Chris Antley, even [Angel] Cordero to a certain extent—who are able to shake off tremendous fears, fear for your life. She has that, and that's what separates her from the everyday jockey. The only thing that can keep her from the top are barriers put there by somebody else, not her lack of talent or her lack of perseverance or her fears."
"You know what her greatest asset as a jockey is?" says veteran trainer Sal Campo admiringly. "She thinks that every horse she rides is going to win, just because she's riding him."
Says Jocson, "I've been on babies and bad ones. I've had to work with horses, make them do things they didn't want to do. I worked with hunters and jumpers, making them switch leads, getting the best out of them. I spent time with those horses. I didn't just come to the track, jump on and learn how to gallop.
"I love what I do. If I didn't make money doing what I do, I'd still be doing it—if it was paying enough for me to eat."
Her apartment in Bensalem, Pa., is clean and spare, with white walls and brown carpeting. "I have my own furniture, my own TV, my own bed," she says. "I came from having nothing, and now I go home sometimes and just look at it and touch it. Sometimes I go in and say, 'This is mine, this is mine, this is mine." I'll never be poor again."