U.S. jockey Rosie Napravnik leaves the Sport of Kings on top

Sun Nov 9, 2014 4:00pm EST
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Rosie Napravnik's soft features and affable nature belie her grit on the racetrack.

Over the last decade, Napravnik's rivals never wanted to look over their shoulder in the stretch and see the jockey not-too-affectionately dubbed "the girl" bearing down on them.

It too often ended in defeat.

"Rosie is a fierce competitor," said Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. "Tough. Very focused. She's great at what she does. A good jockey is good regardless of gender.

"She finishes strong. There are a lot of male riders out there that don't have what it takes. She has what it takes."

With a record-setting resume and in the prime of her career, Napravnik pulled a shocker during the Breeders' Cup last weekend when she announced her retirement. "The girl" with the red hair and high cheekbones was pregnant and quitting the sport.

Napravnik, 26, broke the news after winning one of the biggest races of her career, the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff aboard the prized 3-year-old filly Untapable.

For weeks Napravnik had pondered how to announce her retirement. The New Jersey native figured it would be some time during the Breeders' Cup, perhaps Sunday, the day most horsemen and reporters would leave California's Santa Anita Park for the journey home.   Continued...

Oct 31, 2014; Santa Anita , CA, USA;  Rosie Napravnik aboard Untapable celebrates victory of race nine of the 2014 Breeders Cup Championships at Santa Anita Park. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports