"I don't get nervous. I'm pretty calm."
On Saturday, jockey Rosie Napravnik will attempt to become the first woman to win the Kentucky Derby. However, after Saturday, she will serve a 4-day suspension.
Louisville's Churchill Downs stewards punished Napravnik for her in role in the disqualification of horse Bayern from first to second place in the Derby Trial last weekend.
This came after Embellishing Bob jockey Brian Herdandez, Jr. lodged an objection against Napravnik, claiming that she and Bayern made contact with his horse in the final furlong. Upon review, stewards agreed and changed the order of the finish, putting Napravnik and Bayern in second place behind Herdandez and Embellishing Bob.
Originally, she would have received a 3-day suspension, but the extra day was added because she is being allowed to ride in the Kentucky Derby this weekend.
26-year old Napravnik began her racing career in 2005 and has since been consistently ranked among the top jockeys in North America in earnings and total races won.
In 2012 Napravnik was the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks. She then went on to finish fifth-place in the 2013 Kentucky Derby and third-place in the Preakness Stakes.
Born into a horse-centered family, it is no surprise that Napravnik decided at the age of seven to become a Triple Crown race jockey. Her father is a specialist in equine hoof care (a farrier) and her mother ran a boarding and training stable as well as trained event horses.
Standing at 5 ft 1 inch tall and weighing in at 133 pounds, Napravnik stands up to the male jockey world with ease.
"Other jockeys might underestimate my ability to be aggressive in a race," she said. "Until they ride with me. Then they're like, 'Ohhhh, OK.'"
"When she's coming at you [on the track] we don't say, 'Here comes the girl,'" says veteran jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, who rode against Napravnik at Keeneland in Lexington, KY. "She's a very good rider. She places horses in the right spot where they need to be."
At the Kentucky Derby this weekend, Napravnik will be riding Vicar's in Trouble. She doesn't plan to appeal the suspension, which she will serve May 8-11.
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