As Rosie Napravnik, 25, gets ready to break out of the gates Saturday atop "Mylute", her thoughts drift back to Maryland. Born to a father who shoes horses and a mother who trains them, Rosie grew up in a saddle and felt her calling early on.
“When 7, she told me she was going to be the first woman to win the Triple Crown,” said Jazz Napravnik, Rosie’s sister. “Well, I kind of believe her because everything else she said has come true.”
Older sister Jazz helped Rosie get her first job at age 16 exercising horses at Pimlico Race Course. Guided by trainers Holly Robinson and Dickie Small, Rosie started racing and winning in 2005.
“She rode a few winners, next thing you know, she's on the favorites…2-3 favorites a day,” said Dickie Small, trainer. “And then pretty soon she's on all the favorites.”
Eight years later, and now based in New Orleans, the five-foot-two, 113-pound red-head has more than 1500 career wins. And she hasn't let the male-dominated field or a broken back and other injuries slow her down.
Last year, Rosie won the Breeder's Cup Juvenile Race and became the first woman to top ten million in earnings and win the Kentucky Oaks.
“I think about the jocks room at Pimlico, watching the Oaks and everyone cheering me on from Maryland and it's like, I can reflect on that,” said Napravnik. “And it really means so much to me.”
Rosie placed ninth in the Kentucky Derby two years ago, the best finish ever for a woman. But Saturday, she's striding for more.
“To win the Kentucky Derby is such a life-long dream,” said Napravnik.