Jockey Napravnik’s Star Is Rising

Good jockeys tend to get good mounts. The top jockeys get to ride the elite of the Thoroughbred breed. That’s why Rosie Napravnik will be aboard the 7-5 morning line favorite, Overanalyze, for Todd A. Pletcher in Saturday’s Grade 2, $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort.

At age 25, Napravnik is riding her way into the sport’s upper echelon. Her statistics for the year, through July 31, are as follows: 741 mounts; 174 wins; 229 placings; and purse earnings of $8.15 million. Napravnik ranks fourth nationally among jockeys in victories and fifth nationally in earnings. Her win ratio for the season is 23.5 percent.

Napravnik has been profiled on NBC’s Today Show and CBS’s 60 Minutes. She has been the subject of numerous feature articles in newspapers and magazines, many of which are circulated throughout the country.

Gaining celebrity within horse racing’s world provides advantages.

Disadvantages, too.

“You’ll be on a horse that should be a 3-1 third choice, and he’ll get bet down to a 9-5 favorite,” the late Hall of Famer Eddie Arcaro once explained. “And then when he runs like a 3-1 third choice, you get ‘booed’ all the way to the jockeys’ room.”

There weren’t many boos for Napravnik this past winter at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where she dominated the jockey standings with 125 wins. It was her third consecutive rider title at Fair Grounds, a track that conducted its first meet in 1870.

This past spring, Napravnik finished third in the standings at Keeneland. And she finished second with 45 wins in the Churchill Downs standings, trailing only Shaun Bridgmohan.

Napravnik is based at Saratoga. where she’s been competitive, although far from dominant. Napravnik currently is tied for sixth in the Saratoga standings, trailing the national leader Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano, the two-time Eclipse Award winner John Velasquez, Jose Lezcano and Cornelio Velasquez.-all are exceptional at their craft.

A very strong argument can be made that the annual Saratoga meet is the best on these shores, and perhaps even on the entire planet. To be considered among the best, an athlete has to compete against the best, which is what Napravnik’s doing.

Mountaineer Notes: Should Overanalyze win on Saturday, he will receive the $150,000 bonus Mountaineer’s offering to any Grade 1 winner who also wins the West Virginia Derby. His Arkansas victory makes Overanalyze eligible for this. The bonus would swell the race’s purse to $900,000, and the overall distribution for the West Virginia Derby card to $1.8 million.