At the Kentucky Derby, Rosie Napravnik made history with a wonderful ride atop Mylute. At the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, she'll have to be even better.
With her fifth-place finish at Churchill Downs earlier this month, the 25-year-old Napravnik earned the best placing ever by a female rider at the Derby. If she's going to continue her assault on the record books and become the first female jockey to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown, she and trusty thoroughbred Mylute will have to find a way to best Orb.
That's no easy task—the Kentucky Derby winner, ridden by red-hot jockey Joel Rosario, is quickly steamrolling his way toward the illustrious Triple Crown.
At Churchill, Rosario delivered a perfect race atop Orb, biding his time at the back before using a blazing finish to take home the comfortable victory.
Since then, the talented horse has only continued to gain momentum. On the morning of the Preakness, he stood as a 1-1 overwhelming favorite.
Still, Orb is beatable—especially against the nearly consensus second option and closest finisher of any of the five Derby runners also in the Preakness.
It's just going to take a flawless ride by Napravnik.
First, take a look at her and Mylute at the Kentucky Derby:
As you'll notice, the young jockey rode nearly the exact same race as Rosario. According to Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com, Mylute stayed far behind the opening pace, sitting in "18th, 17th, 16th and 9th at points of call from the quarter-mile to one mile." Then when he made his run, it was like a horse-shaped rocket being shot out of a cannon, propelling him to a fifth-place finish.
The takeaway? Mylute is a closer, plain and simple.
That may not seem ideal on a shorter Pimlico track that favors speed, but if Napravnik begins her run earlier—and just as importantly, before Rosario—it could work.
Her post position will make that possible:
Orb, on the other hand, is on the rail at No. 1. He has the talent to get to the outside, cover an enormous amount of ground and still win; however, combine the shorter course and Mylute's easier route to the space on the outside, and this sets up perfectly for Napravnik.
However, not only does she need to time her push perfectly and run a complete race (no big deal), her success may come down to something of a cliche:
She needs to relax and do what she always does—something that should be easy considering her experience at Pimlico, according to Novak of BloodHorse.com:
She may not be a Maryland native, but Rosie Napravnik remembers galloping horses at Pimlico Race Course before she even earned her jockey's license, then winning the first race of her career at the oval in 2005.
"I think that this track is stereotypically called a speed-biased track, but, honestly, I've ridden on this track a million times and I really think that it's a fair track," she said. "I don't think it's going to be any disadvantage to us coming from behind, and it's a very long stretch."
Napravnik is going to have to be at her very best to upset Rosario and Orb, but there is no better place for her to make history—again.