After an eventful 24 hours, jockey Rosie Napravnik returned to Belmont Park Saturday afternoon with her first Grade 1 victory and a bit of racing history in tow.
On Friday, the 24-year-old piloted Believe You Can to win the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, becoming the first female jockey to win the prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies.
“It’s just been a whirlwind – I haven’t had a chance to sit down and relax yet,” said Napravnik, who finished third aboard Wildcat Frankie in race 4 at Belmont, her first race at her new home base since the historic victory.
Arriving straight from the airport, Napravnik said she was thrilled at the enthusiastic welcome she received from fans and her fellow riders.
“A lot of the fans were congratulating me, [and] my peers in the jockeys’ room,” she said. “I’m really happy to have everyone’s support. It feels great. I’m so happy to be riding here today.”
Napravnik had been scheduled to ride Mark Valeski in today’s Kentucky Derby, but the colt was declared from the race by trainer Larry Jones after a sub-par workout earlier in the week. The Louisiana Derby runner-up is being re-routed to the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont on May 12.
“I still have a really nice [colt] in Mark Valeski, and he should be very tough to beat in [the Peter Pan],” she said. “There are still plenty of races this summer for 3-year-olds, and Larry is pretty adamant about making it to the Travers with him, so that’s really exciting.”
Boisterous victorious By Jenny Kellner
Boisterous made his return to New York a winning one, closing resolutely through the stretch and going onto a one-length victory over Desert Blanc in Saturday’s 36th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park.
Sent off as the narrow 7-5 favorite in the field of six, the 5-year-old son of Distorted Humor stayed in midpack behind fractions of 25.68 and 50.89 set by Upgrade over the yielding turf course. Moving up on the turn, Boisterous hit his best stride once in the stretch and took the lead 110 yards from the wire.
“I know my horse can run the last part, so I wanted to be patient,” said winning jockey Alan Garcia. “I was waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting, and turning for home I let him run and he did really well.”
Boisterous completed the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.89 as he added the Fort Marcy to his 2011 stakes victories in the Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont.
“We originally were disappointed in his last race because he didn’t finish, but looking further at it, he made an early move and then flattened out,” said Robbie Medina, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “That type of turf course with the short stretch doesn’t suit him; he prefers making that one run through the stretch.”
Boisterous, who returned $4.60 for a $2 win bet, earned $90,000 to extend his bankroll to $457,990. Overall, he is 7-0-1 from 16 starts.
Next up for Boisterous, said Medina, will likely be the Grade 1, $600,000 Woodford Reserve Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 9. Last year, Boisterous finished third in the 1 ¼-mile race in his first graded stakes appearance.