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Whirlwind Weekend for Napravnik

Whirlwind Weekend for Napravnik
Photo: Jim McCue/MJC
After an eventful 24 hours, jockey Rosie Napravnik returned to Belmont Park Saturday afternoon with her first Grade 1 victory and a bit of racing history in tow. On Friday, the 24-year-old piloted Believe You Can to win the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, becoming the first female jockey to win the prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies.

 

“It’s just been a whirlwind – I haven’t had a chance to sit down and relax yet,” said Napravnik, who finished third aboard Wildcat Frankie in race 4 at Belmont, her first race at her new home base since the historic victory. “After the [Oaks] I had over 100 text messages, along with voice mails, Twitter, Facebook messages. We’ve been getting tons of support.”

 

Napravnik’s trip back from Louisville Sunday morning was much more eventful than her trip in the Oaks, in which she and Believe You Can outdueled newly minted Hall of Famer John Velazquez and Broadway’s Alibi to win by less than a length. She arrived at the Louisville airport at 4:30 a.m. for her early morning flight back to New York, but after leaving the gate, the plane was forced to return for repairs. After an hour delay, the plane left the gate again, said Napravnik, but once again had to turn around and come back.

 

“Finally, we got a new plane,” she said. “It was a bit of a rough morning. We wound up getting here three hours late, and I arrived just in time for the fourth race. It was lucky for me that my first two mounts today at Belmont were scratched, because I wouldn’t have made it.”

 

Arriving straight from the airport, Napravnik said she was thrilled at the enthusiastic welcome she received from fans and her fellow riders.

 

“A lot of the fans were congratulating me, [and] my peers in the jockeys’ room,” she said. “I’m really happy to have everyone’s support. It feels great. I’m so happy to be riding here today.”

 

Napravnik had been scheduled to ride Mark Valeski in today’s Kentucky Derby, but the colt was declared from the race by trainer Larry Jones after a sub-par workout earlier in the week. The Louisiana Derby runner-up is being re-routed to the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont on May 12.

 

“I still have a really nice [colt] in Mark Valeski, and he should be very tough to beat in [the Peter Pan],” she said. “There are still plenty of races this summer for 3-year-olds, and Larry is pretty adamant about making it to the Travers with him, so that’s really exciting.”

 

 

 

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