So, when 20 male runners enter the Louisville starting gate, it’s likely the casual sports fan will have heard of Rosie Napravnik, and for all they know Verrazano is still only the bridge in New York that connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.
And perhaps the only reason the fan has heard of Napravnik is because they will have seen her on “60 Minutes” this Sunday night. Check your local listings.
A check of the NTRA listings and profiles shows that Napravnik, having reached the 1,500-win plateau earlier this year, also owns a Breeders’ Cup victory, historic wins in the Kentucky Oaks and Louisiana Derby, and the single-season earnings mark by a female rider of over $12 million.
The earnings record, erasing the standard set by the great Julie Krone 20 years ago, came as the result of 193 victories in 2012, many of those enabling her to win a third consecutive riding title at the Fair Grounds.
Rosie currently ranks fifth nationally in money won, her mounts having earned $4.3 million, and if Joel Rosario hadn’t gone absolutely wild at the recently concluded Keeneland race meet, her 113 victories this year would lead the nation.
When a rider dominates any one meeting, the way Napravnik has at the Fair Grounds since 2011, they usually in get the best mounts but still, her win percentage of 26 trails only Rafael Bejarano, who at 28 percent had 100 fewi rides.
Twenty six percent is better than Rosario’s strike rate, or that of Johnny Velazquez or Javier Castellano, the remaining members of the top five. Her win rate was even better than the dominant, albeit currently sidelined, Ramon Dominguez.
Through Friday, Rosie’s had 434 rides and three of every five have hit the board. She’s having the kind of year that makes you almost forget the unforgettable Ms. Krone.
At the moment, Rosie counting the days to Derby 139. Here's Napravnik on the classic: “Win it? It would mean the same thing to me as it would everyone else in this game. It’s the ultimate goal that really doesn’t seem realistic until you’re there and in it.”
Those iterations came with respect to her Derby ride aboard 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby, now currently sidelined. Instead, Napravnik will partner Mylute for trainer Tom Amoss, an outfit that has done very well together in the winters down on the Bayou.
Mylute will be one of the longer shots in the field but still has a little better than a puncher’s chance. In his last start, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, he was beaten in a photo by Revolutionary, a colt many have picked to win the roses on Saturday.
Last month, through the auspices of Thoroughbred publicist Equisponse, Napravnik entered a strategic partnership with Octagon, a leading global sports and entertainment marketer. The company represents Michael Phelps, Apolo Anton Ohno and Kelly Clark, among others.
“Every now and then, an athlete emerges in a sport and exhibits the potential to do things that have never been done before,” said Peter Carlisle, Octagon’s managing director of Olympics and Action Sports.
“This amounts to a great opportunity not only for Rosie but potentially for the sport of horse racing as well.”
“You can almost classify her as just ‘jockey’ now,” said trainer Larry Jones after saddling Joyful Victory to win Santa Anita’s Santa Margarita Stakes. “You don’t have to put ‘woman’ on there anymore.
“She’s talented and horses love to run for her. I’ve had some horses that are somewhat lazy. I didn’t think Rosie would fit them but I put her on and the horses weren’t lazy anymore. She just can communicate with them.”
And then Jones offered this: “Rosie is one of those special riders. I tell you it’s a gift from God what she’s got. She doesn’t realize it yet but she’s been anointed with this talent. She is one of the brightest young stars in this game, I can assure you.”
So there indeed is a filly in this Derby. How about “roses for rosie?” The headline just writes itself.
He Can Still Flat Out Run
As it turns out, concerns that the 7-year-old Flat Out might be passed his prime were ill founded. It must be something about the water in Elmont, the elixir apparently helping the old pro to extend his unbeaten streak at Belmont Park to four.
To do so, he had to run down a very fast and formidable Gulfstream Park shipper, Cross Traffic, and that's exactly what he did by a head in the shadow of the wire, getting a mile in a very snappy 1:32.99--even if the track played on the fast side all day.
It played on the speed-favoring side, too, and it was that much cooler seeing the old boy dig down deep, making his terrible effort in the New Orleans Handicap a bad butdistant memory.
"Junior Alvarado did a great job," said Bill Mott assistant Leana Williford of the winning rider. "He was aware the other horse was the lone speed, and didn't let him get too far away."