NAPRAVNIK TO RETURN TO HER ROOTS FOR PREAKNESS STAKES
MYLUTE A GO FOR MIDDLE JEWEL; DERBY HERO ORB GALLOPS; STREET SPICE NO LONGER A CANDIDATE
BALTIMORE, 05-11-13 – Moments after learning that trainer Tom Amoss had confirmed that Mylute would be headed to Pimlico Race Course to run in next Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (G1), jockey Rosie Napravnik expressed her excitement on Twitter Saturday morning:“Get your PREAK ON baby I’m coming home I promise you there is no other jockey who wants to win the #Preakness more than me! MYLUTE”
Another tweet quickly followed:“Ok maybe Rosario… But I bet it’s just been added to his list recently haha”
While Joel Rosario surely has been very intent on winning the Preakness since guiding Orb to victory in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4, winning the Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown has been on Napravnik’s radar since launching her riding career at Pimlico on June 9, 2005.
Nearly eight years later, Napravnik will have the opportunity to realize her dream of winning the Preakness aboard Mylute, whom she rode to a solid fifth-place finish behind Orb in the Kentucky Derby.
“I’m fired up,” said thoroughbred racing’s most successful woman jockey Saturday morning by phone from Churchill Downs. “The Preakness is just as high up on my list as the Derby to win. It would probably mean the most to me to win at Pimlico, where I started out and have all the original supporters, the people who really got me going. It would mean so much to win that race.”
The 25-year-old native of Morristown, N.J. credits Maryland trainers Holly Robinson and Richard Small with helping her get established and supporting her through her four years of riding and dominating at Pimlico and Laurel Park. During the summer of 2004, Napravnik moved to Robinson’s Sparks, Md. farm, where her sister, Jazz, worked as an assistant trainer. She attended nearby Hereford High School during her junior year while galloping horses and learning her trade.
On June 9, 2005, Small named the 17-year-old apprentice to ride Ringofdiamonds, and she sent her very first mount right to the lead and into the Pimlico winner’s circle. Saturday morning, Napravnik recalled her first career victory in detail.
“I remember thinking that I was so glad that it was first race of the day and I didn’t have to wait and be anxious all day. Even leading up to it, it was surreal that it was even happening. I remember not even knowing how to read the Racing Form. I had handicapped the race to the best of my ability and I figured I would be somewhere near the front of the pack. I was in the one-hole going two turns, which really isn’t that easy to do at Pimlico,” she recalled.
“Luis Garcia who had ridden the filly multiple times and won on her multiple times was also in the race. He came up to me in the paddock and said, ‘If you go to the lead, you will win easy.’ I said, ‘Oh, OK, I’ll just go to the lead,’ but I had no idea what I was doing. And somehow I got the lead from the one-hole going those two turns and we never looked back,” she added.
“I pulled my stick through to the left hand because I remember Dickie telling me really early on that that’s what I should do because everybody would be watching and everybody would notice that. So that’s what I did. I pulled my stick through to the left hand. I think I might have only hit her one time. It was all so surreal and unbelievable that I was winning that race. My mom was there. My sister was there. It was so exciting.”
She went on to win several riding titles in Maryland, where she led all jockeys in victories in 2006 and 2008, before moving on to ride in New York, Delaware and Louisiana with great success. Napravnik, who has been the leading rider at Fair Grounds for the past three meetings, became the first woman to ride the winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) aboard Believe You Can in 2012. Through all of her successes Napravnik has never forgotten her roots.
“When I’m riding in the Derby, all through Derby week, and when I won the Oaks last year, I automatically reflect on it and think about Dickie and Holly and starting out,” Napravnik said. “It feels like it was just yesterday to me. They are very special to me. I couldn’t be more proud to come back and ride in the Preakness.”
Napravnik is excited to ride an improving horse like Mylute in the Preakness.
“He ran an excellent race in the Derby. We got a very wide trip. We followed Orb basically the whole race. That was a big test of his class and his talent and he really came through. He’s a horse that is improving at the right time,” she said. “I think he’s going to move forward a lot off that race. I don’t think it’s something where it took everything out of him and would cause him to regress at all. He’s maturing and has the competitive drive of a really good race horse.”
Napravnik will become the third female rider to have a Preakness mount, joining Patti Cooksey (sixth aboard Tajawa in 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (seventh with Looming in 1994).
Amoss was obviously encouraged that Mylute has maintained his form and competitive edge following a mile jog and a two-mile gallop at Churchill Downs Saturday morning.
“I talked with Paul Buhlman (of GoldMark) and Mandy Pope (of Whisper Hill) and we discussed how he was doing and how he was training and the decision was made to go to the Preakness,” Amoss said. “He is booked on the plane for Wednesday morning to go to Baltimore.”
Amoss, who plans to give Mylute a half-mile workout early Monday morning, is well aware of the task at hand in the Preakness.
“We have to find four lengths,” Amoss said referring to Orb’s advantage over Mylute in the Derby. “If Orb runs his race back in the Preakness, he will be hard to beat.”
ORB – Nearly a week had passed since Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb registered a 2 ½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby, and trainer Shug McGaughey reflected on the highlight of his Hall of Fame career Saturday morning.
“I’m still excited. I’m still thrilled. I’ll be thrilled for the rest of my life,” McGaughey said. “The main thing is just to see how excited and how thrilled Mr. (Dinny) Phipps and Mr. Janney have been since the race. Also the morale of our barn is just through the roof. Everybody is so excited.”
McGaughey’s excitement is matched by his immense pride over Orb’s Derby performance.
“I picture that move in my mind time and time again,” he said. “He ran such a professional race and he ran so well, it was so much fun to watch.”
Orb jogged three-eighths of a mile and galloped 1 ½ miles over a sealed muddy track at Belmont Park Saturday morning.
DEPARTING – Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing galloped 1 ½ miles over a track labeled “muddy” early Saturday morning at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Trina Pasckvale up.
Trained by Al Stall Jr., the Illinois Derby (G3) winner is scheduled to work a half-mile Sunday morning with Larry Melancon slated to be aboard.
GOLDENCENTS – The Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner went to the sloppy, sealed Pimlico track at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for a second day of exercise following a 17th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. His regular jockey, Kevin Krigger, was in the saddle.
Assistant trainer Jack Sisterson is managing Goldencents and 13 other horses from trainer Doug O’Neill’s stable at Pimlico. O’Neill is scheduled to travel from California to Baltimore on Sunday. Sisterson said that Krigger and Goldencents repeated Friday’s jog and gallop routine.
“We jogged to the seven-eighths and kind of broke off from there into a steady gallop from the three-quarter pole and galloped around to the wire,” Sisterson said. “Kevin kind of relaxed him and pulled him up down the backside. He looked fantastic and Kevin was very happy with him. His energy level was high. He was striding out. Everything we want to see in him.”
Goldencents is scheduled to work Monday morning.
GOVENOR CHARLIE – Mike Pegram’s Govenor Charlie galloped 1 ½ miles at Churchill over a track that had been upgraded to “good” after the morning renovation break. Jorge Alvarez was aboard for the morning exercise.
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to work the Sunland Derby (G3) winner on Monday.
ITSMYLUCKYDAY – A wet track at Monmouth Park prompted trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. to postpone Itsmyluckyday’s scheduled breeze Saturday morning.
“The track was hard,” Plesa said. “We’re going to try tomorrow and see what happens.”
Plesa said he could work Itsmyluckyday as late as Monday. If weather doesn’t permit it, Plesa said the son of Lawyer Ron wouldn’t need to work to be ready for the Preakness. Yet, he would prefer to give his Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G3) winner a breeze.
“I don’t know that he needs to work, to be honest with you, but he’s feeling so darn good. I feel it would help him. Sometimes they can have too much energy,” said Plesa, whose colt finished a disappointing 15th in the Kentucky Derby.
NORMANDY INVASION – Fox Hill Farms’ Normandy Invasion galloped at Belmont Park Saturday morning. Trainer Chad Brown reported that no firm decision has been made concerning his fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher’s status for next Saturday’s Preakness.
OXBOW/TITLETOWN FIVE/WILL TAKE CHARGE – Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, whose first venture to the Preakness in 1980 with Codex resulted in a victory, had his three candidates for Preakness 138 on the track early at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning.
Sixth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Oxbow was the first out of the group, galloping over a muddy track under exercise rider Rudy Quevedo. Will Take Charge, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, galloped under Taylor Carty in the second set along with Titletown Five, who was partnered by Quevedo.
Lukas said that Oxbow is scheduled to work Monday and added, “I may let the other two go through the stretch” before vanning to Baltimore early Tuesday morning. Two-time Preakness-winning rider Gary Stevens, who rode Oxbow in the Kentucky Derby and who has the Preakness mount, is expected to be aboard for the work.
STREET SPICE – Trainer Greg Geier said Saturday that James Tafel’s homebred colt will not run in the Preakness. Geier breezed Street Spice five furlongs at Arlington Park Saturday morning before finalizing his decision to skip the Preakness with the fifth-place finisher in the Illinois Derby (G3).
“He worked good this morning, but we’re going to stay here and look for something else,” Geier said. “He worked in 1:01 and came back very good. He’s still like a big kid and still learning. I walked with Mr. Tafel and he said until the colt gets a little smarter, we’ll just play it by ear and go from there.”
VYJACK – Trainer Rudy Rodriquez said Saturday said that he and owner David Wilkenfeld are still considering whether to run the Into Mischief gelding in the Preakness.
“We’re going to wait until the last minute,” Rodriguez said. “It may be as late as Wednesday before they take entries. We’ll take a look, see what’s going on and then make a final decision.”
Rodriguez said Vyjack is doing well at Aqueduct following his 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and isn’t likely to work between races.