By John Piesen:
She won't be cracking The Big Three in the New York jockey colony for awhile, if ever, but I wouldn't put it past Rosie Napravnik.
Rosie showed the world when she won her first grade one a month back on Believe You Can for trainer Jones in the Kentucky Oaks. She showed me when she won the third race Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park.
In both cases, Rosie outfinished John Velazquez, one of those New York Big Three (see Dominguez and Castellano).
The irony here is that agent Matt Musikar represents both Castellano and Napravnik. This is the same Matt Musikar, who, back in the '90s, was working security for NYRA, which led to being Mr. Julie Krone for a while.
Personally, I have never been a big fan of women jockeys, Krone included, but Rosie is doing everything possible to prove me wrong. This year alone, she has cracked the national money and wins standings, and is riding for (and winning for) every top outfit in New York.
On Friday and Saturday alone, Rosie is listed to ride in 15 of the 19 races at Belmont. That includes eight of the 10 on Saturday...none morning-line favorites.
On the other hand, Dominguez, a two-time Eclipse winner, will ride all 10 races Saturday, including five morning line favorites.
But we're talking just numbers here. We want to talk raceriding.
In the Kentucky Oaks, Rosie, on Believe You Can, outdueled superfilly Broadway's Alibi, with Johnny V up, from the outside through the long Churchill Downs stretch.
After the race, Rosie breathlessly told the national TV audience that it was a thrill just going head-to-head with Johnny V, much less beating him.
Unlike the Kentucky Oaks, Thursday's third at Belmont was merely a maiden-special for 2-year-old fillies. Although, in these casino-fueled times, the $70,000 purse had to look pretty enticing to the connections.
But like, the Kentucky Oaks, the race turned into a rousing duel between Rosie and Johnny V., aboard first-starters named Fully Living and Can't Explain for trainers McPeek and Pletcher, respectively.
Can't Explain outbroke Fully Living from her outside post, and Johnny V. kept Rosie pinned up against the rail for a :45 1/5 half-mile in the 5 1/2-furlong race.
Turning for home, Can't Explain managed a good half-length advantage on Fully Living while keeping her rival pinned on the fence. She looked home free.
But Rosie went to whippin' and drivin', and her filly somehow came again to beat Johnny V in the final 100 yards.
There was no national TV interviews this time for Rosie, just the satisfaction of doing the impossible.
Incidentally, this won't be the last time we'll see Fully Living and Can't Explain in the same race...but next time may be in a graded stake at Saratoga.
Rosie sure has come a long way since 2005 when she started her career as A.R. Napravnik on the Maryland circuit. Seems that trainer (and ex-Green Beret) Dick Small, who gave Rosie her first mount, wanted to keep it a secret that Rosie was a girl.
Well, in both the Kentucky Oaks and Thursday's third at Belmont, she beat Todd Pletcher. Not that the Toddster is upset at Rosie. He rides her regularly.
Here are three other gals making racing news this week:
At age 90, Chenery, the most accomplished and celebrated owner in racing history, made headlines when she took shots at the connections of I'll Have Another for drugs and such.
One week after clinching an Eclipse writing award with her compelling profile of Danny Perlsweig and Lord Avie, Livingston clinched the photography Eclipse with her shot of the scary near-collision of I'll Have Another and a 2-year-old filly during training hours.
Last year Cibelli became the first women in history to win the Monmouth training title. She's off and running for a repeat, and, on Saturday, she looks tough with stable star Bombast in the John J. Reilly Stakes (race 11).
Oh, we need to point out that the last three Triple Crown winners were owned by women: Secretariat (Chenery); Seattle Slew (Karen Taylor), and Affirmed (Patrice Jacobs Wolfson).
Suggestion to NYRA: How 'bout having these three great ladies in the winner's circle to greet I'll Have Another a week from Saturday (if necessary)?
Personally, I;'m going to try to beat I'll Have Another on the world-famous John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283). But that's a column for next Friday.
(And who knows? Maybe by next week the New York Daily News will discover that Affirmed is not the only horse since Secretariat to win the Triple Crown).
Meantime, this Saturday, they will run the Vagrancy Handicap, a 200K grade 2 for fillies and mares at Belmont. Seven will go six and a half furlongs, and there's not a throwout in the bunch.
Dick Dutrow does't have any Big Browns in the barn this year, but he's still doing OK at Belmont. How does 15-10-10 from 47 starters grab you? Tricky Dick has two here -- Smart Strike, who was running for a quarter last winter, and C C's Pal, a multiple stakes-winner fresh from a closing second
last Saturday in the My Juliet Stakes at Philly Park.
Albertrani, a two-time stakes-winner on Monday, has Belle of the Hall back on her game, if her last-out second in the Marfa is any indication. She switches to Castellano, but must overcome the dreaded one-hole (see To Honor and Serve).
Nicole H, fourth as the favorite in the My Juliet for Hushion, sheds seven pounds, and goes back to Dominguez, who is 4-2-0 in seven tries on her.
Kid Kate won two straight stakes last summer at Saratoga for the Chad Brown/Castro combo, and is training well at the Spa for her first race since October. Watch the board.
She's Cheeky is the mystery guest here. She's been California-based for most of her career, and, at age 7, ran a career race in April for a closing second in a Keeneland stake to Groupie Doll, the best filly in the land. First-time Johnny V, and well-drawn in outside post. On the downside, she is 3-for-25, and shows no works over the track.
Speaking of mixed signals, what do we do with old buddy Noble's Promise at Churchill in the 100K grade 2 Aristedes at six furlongs? NP won this race last year as the favorite, getting a 103 number, but has lost six subsequent starts. He is 2-for-4 over the track, and switches to Lanerie, the meet's top rider, replacing Leparoux, currently a horror show at Belmont.
Asmussen is super-dangerous with the uncoupled R&R boys - Riley Tucker and Rothko.
This just in:
Cowboy Jack Kaenel, on the 30th anniversary of winning the Preakness on Aloma's Ruler for the late Butch Lenzini, is getting on horses these mornings at Canterbury in hopes of starting a comeback at age 46.
In winning the Preakness at age 16, he became the youngest rider to win a Triple Crown race -- and still is to this day.
Here's wishing the Cowboy good luck.
Thanks for tuning in. Keep the JPHL on your speed dial, and see you back here next Friday for a Belmont preview.
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