Future rosy for pioneer Napravnik


Anyone who saw Joyful Victory win the Grade 1 Santa Margarita at Santa Anita on Saturday witnessed a great filly in action. And I don’t mean the horse.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik, who rode Joyful Victory, showed that her win last fall on Shanghai Bobby in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, also at Santa Anita, was no fluke. Napravnik is among the best riders in a sport in which men and women compete as equals.

I chuckled when the national media fawned over Danica Patrick after she won the pole position for the Daytona 500. A woman competing against men. How novel. More than one media member openly asked if NASCAR was the only sport in which this happens.

Napravnik, 25, not only competes but also succeeds at the highest level. She recently won her 1,500th race and is well on her way to a third straight Fair Grounds riding title.

And when top trainers such as Todd Pletcher, Steve Asmussen and Larry Jones have used her on their good stock, Napravnik has thrived.

Her career has a high ceiling, as evidenced by her standing with the most wins this year. She ranks fourth nationally in purse earnings.

Her door to the future as a sports celebrity was opened when Napravnik signed a marketing deal with the world-renowned firm Octagon.

“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 managing director of Olympics and Action Sports. Carlisle continued in the news release that this “amounts to a great opportunity, not only for Rosie, but potentially for the sport of horse racing as well.”

■ NIGHT SCHOOL — I will be a guest on the fan education program “Night School” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. Go to horseplayernow.com for “Night School” details.

■ KENTUCKY DERBY POOL 3 WAGER — Five of the 23 listed horses in Pool 3 have more than 40 points, which is what I consider a safe number to make the Derby field. Half of the 23, or more, potentially won’t earn enough points to start.

■ SPIRAL/SUNLAND DERBY — Two Kentucky Derby point races this weekend are the Spiral at Turfway Park and the Sunland Derby at Sunland Park. Each race will offer 50 points to the winner.

Uncaptured (3-1) is the horse to beat in the Spiral. He owns graded-stakes wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club and Iroquois. Uncaptured also won four races over the Polytrack surface at Woodbine, the same synthetic track as at Turfway.

Trainer Bob Baffert has a good chance to dominate the Sunland Derby with Shakin It Up and Governor Charlie. Shakin It Up, winner of the San Vicente, is the lone graded-stakes winner in the group.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.