Derby 2014 230

Jockey Rosie Naprovnik at the 2014 Ferdinand Ball 

 By Sarah Lolley, Accidental Mama

Jockey Rosie Napravnik looked seriously at the silent auction table, writing her name down a second time for a painted pony plate. Catching her attention by waving a microphone in front of her face I waited beside her while she made her bids. She stands 5’ 1” but can peer over her nose at the tallest of UK basketball players. I excitedly waved a Maniac Magazine in front of her, explaining that it was a fashion magazine.

“I know, I can tell from looking at you that you are with a fashion magazine,” she said without the usual amicable tone you expect from celebrities at a gala. On that evening I was attending the Ferdinand Ball, proceeds which go to Old Friends that cares for retired racing thoroughbreds.

“You have two seconds.” She replied after I asked if I could ask her some quick questions. Man! It was very clear at this point that she was tough. I have admired learning about her rise to jockey stardom in 2012 when she won the Kentucky Oaks on filly Believe You Can. She was wearing a floor length gown that year at the Julep Ball. On this occasion she wore a purple dress suit with white stockings and kitten heels.  It was a Thursday, the night before she would once again win the 2014 Oaks on top Untapable.

She has true grit and I wasn’t at all surprised that she was no nonsense. It was with this in mind that I asked her to tell me about her ‘Maniac Moment’ at the Derby. I was relieved when she didn’t roll her eyes at me after I waved the magazine under her nose again in explanation.

“Everyone expected me to cry during the National Anthem, and I didn’t, not until I heard the crowd roar after it was finished did I actually cry. That reaction from the crowd is what did it.” As one of the few women to ever qualify in this distinctly male sport, I get the impression she has been asked many times about how this affects her. I even knew she tried to hide her gender when she got her jockey license in 2005. However, I didn’t go there. Sometimes a woman’s fight is a woman’s fight.

My second question was for own blog, The Childhood Project, dedicated to collecting early influences from artists and, in the case, an athlete.

“When I was young it was all about riding ponies fast. I wanted to ride my pony as fast as I could. They inspired me,” she said brightly.

I thanked her and she smiled.

Today she will ride Bob Baffert’s horse Bayern at the Preakness race in Baltimore. Incidentally, that is where she started her career, riding at the Pimlico track.

Good Luck Rosie, you not only have grit, but grace. 



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