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.

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  1. Posted May 9, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I always feel I have no idea what is proper any more when I read phrases like, “so that people wouldn’t know she was a girl…” When I was in college, it was absolutely certain that you would have to write, “so that people wouldn’t know she was a woman.” Does that no longer matter?

    But congrats indeed to Napravnik, and may I say that I am incredibly amused at the name of the horse.

    • Posted May 9, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      To be fair, FuzzyFace, those are Napravnik’s own words in the article (“I didn’t want anyone to know I was a girl,” Anna Rose Napravnik said.) Also, at the time she started going by her initials, Napravnik was 17 years old, which could possibly be the age of a “young woman,” but, as I get older, well… it seems more reasonable to call a teenager a boy or a girl, lol.

  2. Posted May 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    The linked NYT article includes a quote from Napravnik:

    ‘“I didn’t want anyone to know I was a girl,” Anna Rose Napravnik said. ‘

    So the OP was preserving some of the jockey’s own language. The article also notes that she got her jockey’s license at 17, and that she only went by the initials earlier in her career, so it seems appropriate to give the OP the benefit of the doubt.

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