Jockey Rosie Napravnik (Hereford) closed out a career-best season Dec. 31, securing the highest spot ever for a female jockey on the North American leader board.
Finishing the year with $12,451,713 in purse earnings and 193 wins with 191 seconds and 167 thirds in 1,200 starts, Napravnik finished eighth among the top jockeys in the nation in the year-end standings. Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone set the record in 1988 when she finished the year with a ninth-place finish. She finished ninth again in 1992, and the record stood for the past 20 years.
Napravnik won her second consecutive meet title at New Orleans' Fair Grounds Race Course in March and made history in May when she won the coveted Kentucky Oaks, becoming the first female rider in the race's 138-year history to do so. She won the race aboard the aptly named filly Believe You Can, bringing home the garland of lilies for trainer Larry Jones and owner and former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones.
"It is pretty obvious that Rosie lays down the numbers," Krone said. "What fun it has been to watch her year unfold. ... She is in new territory, being one of the top 10 jockeys in the USA. My heart gets to racing at the thought of her winning the Kentucky Derby. I live vicariously through many of her racing moments, then the others, I just enjoy.
"Her tactical savvy in a race is as good as they come. Her gift of the feel or touch for the thoroughbred is remarkable. As a rider, one of the best compliments I got in the 1980s was a valet that said, 'You look like a man on a horse.' This has been said of Rosie many times as well. Her talents are only second to her determination. I suspect this won't be her last visit to the top 10 list. She has all the qualities of a champion."
Napravnik rode the 2-year-old colt Shanghai Bobby to five straight victories for trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Starlight Racing. The colt's fifth win in as many starts came in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a victory that made him a shoo-in for the Eclipse Award for Champion Two-Year-Old Colt and marked him as the early favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby.
"Rosie rides as good as any male jockey out there," said Pletcher, who finished the year as North America's leading trainer. "She's a fierce competitor and wants to win every time she goes out to the track. She's a great communicator and always does her best to put her horses in a spot to win."
Added Napravnik: "This year has been unbelievable. I'm very grateful to my supporters and to all of the people who have given me the opportunities to get to this level. I have continued to learn and have grown as a rider and I thrive on the challenges that come from competing against the best in the game. I've had the chance to work with some of the best horsemen in the business and I feel privileged to have ridden some incredibly talented horses in 2012. I'm excitedly looking forward to what's to come in the New Year."
Napravnik is currently leading the recently opened Fair Grounds meet with 33 wins.
McCarthy wins 4 at Laurel
Mike McCarthy won 2,907 races as a jockey before retiring in 2002. His 18-year-old son, Trevor, is now 2,891 victories behind after a four-win afternoon Tuesday at Laurel Park to ring in the new year.
McCarthy visited the winner's circle aboard Kincaid ($3.20-second for trainer Dale Capuano), Merryland Moon ($5.60-fourth for trainer Mike Trombetta), Bluegrass Kopp ($24.80-fifth for trainer Ferris Allen) and Proud Daddy ($18.20-seventh for trainer Linda Albert).
"I had never won more than one a day so to win four is really exciting. What a great way to start the new year," said McCarthy, who galloped horses for trainer Graham Motion at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton while in high school.
Mike McCarthy had six consecutive 200-win seasons from 1995 to 2000 while riding at Delaware Park.
After graduating from high school last spring, Trevor McCarthy began riding at Parx Racing before relocating to Maryland last month. He had two wins from 31 mounts during the Laurel fall meeting, which ended Monday.
Marshua Stakes canceled
Saturday's Laurel Park card will not have a stakes race after the $100,000 Marshua Stakes did not fill. Only three of the 10 3-year-old fillies entered, according to Maryland Jockey Club assistant racing secretary Jillian Sofarelli. The nine-race program will be headlined instead by a $47,000 optional claimer allowance sprint for fillies and mares.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun