Female jockey makes history by finishing ninth in the Kentucky Derby

Rosie Napravnik riding her horse Pants on Fire
Image credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

Of course, she wanted to win the whole thing. But 23-year-old Rosie Napravnik’s 9th place finish in the 137th annual Kentucky Derby this past weekend is still ground-breaking. USA Today reports:

“Only the sixth female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby, Rosie Napravnik gave her best effort to take Pants on Fire to the winner’s circle — but ended up finishing in 9th place.

That makes her the highest-finishing woman jockey in Derby history. Two female jockeys have finished 11th in the race — Patti Cooksey in 1984 and Julie Krone in 1995.”

Napravnik, who used to ride under the name A. R. Napravnik so that people wouldn’t know she was a girl, has clearly fought hard to earn the respect of her peers in a sport she says is “still a man’s world.” And while she was disappointed not to take first, she says she–and other women riders–will be back.

“I’ve said a million times, the first and second generations (of women jockeys) have really opened the doors for me. So, we continue to have more and more talented female riders. I’m hoping to be back here once again.”

Huge congrats to Napravnik–and hopefully now she’ll get the credit she wants and deserves as “a top rider, not just a top female rider.” ‘Cause I think the case is pretty much closed on that one.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan.com, TheAtlantic.com, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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