An eighth Preakness starter has been named, and he will bring jockey Rosie Napravnik back to the state where her career began to ride for the first time in its premier race.
Mylute, fifth at the Kentucky Derby, will run in the 138th Preakness on Saturday. Trainer Tom Amoss informed Maryland Jockey Club officials of his decision after the colt went to the track Saturday morning.
Napravnik is a blossoming star on the national stage, having appeared on “60 Minutes” and in The New York Times Magazine in the wake of signing an endorsement deal with Snickers.
Napravnik will be only the third woman to ride in the Preakness; Patti Cooksey was sixth aboard Tajawa in 1985 and Andrea Seefeldt rode Looming to a seventh-place finish in 1994.
She is already well known in Maryland, where she started her riding career at the age of 17, skipping her senior year of high school and racing under the initials A.R. – for Anna Rose – to disguise the fact she is a woman.
“The Preakness is just as high up on my list as the Derby to win,” she said Saturday. “It would probably mean the most to me to win at Pimlico, where I started out and have all the original supporters, the people who really got me going. It would mean so much to win that race.”
The 25-year-old came to Maryland in 2004, moving in with sister Jazz, then an assistant trainer for Holly Robinson at her Sparks farm. She picked up work as an exercise rider and began understanding what it would take to be a jockey. Her first start came on June 9, 2005, as she led Ringofdiamonds to the lead in the first race at Pimlico and won for long-time Maryland trainer Dickie Small.
In 2006 she won 300 races and riding titles at Laurel and Pimlico, and was second to Julien Leparoux, who will ride Titletown Five in Preakness, for the Eclipse award given to the top apprentice jockey. She’s since moved on to race in New York, Louisiana and Delaware. Last year, she became the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks, for the top 3-year-old fillies, and her fifth-place finish on Mylute in Kentucky set a new record for best finish by a woman jockey, breaking her own mark set when she took Pants On Fire to a ninth-place finish in 2011.
“When I’m riding in the Derby, all through Derby week, and when I won the Oaks last year, I automatically reflect on it and think about Dickie and Holly and starting out,” Napravnik said. “It feels like it was just yesterday to me. They are very special to me. I couldn’t be more proud to come back and ride in the Preakness.”
She’s now represented by power agent Peter Carlisle, who helped vault Michael Phelps from top swimmer to household name – and brand.
Napravnik will try to become only the second woman to win any Triple Crown race.
She likes her chances on Mylute, who stuck with Orb for much of the Derby.
“I think he’s going to move forward a lot off that race,” she said. “I don’t think it’s something where it took everything out of him and would cause him to regress at all. He’s maturing and has the competitive drive of a really good race horse.”
As it stands now, Mylute is the top Derby finisher scheduled to run in the Preakness and should be one of the top few choices on the morning line to challenge winner Orb.
“We have to find four lengths,” Amoss said, referencing the length of Orb’s win over Mylute at Churchill Downs. “If Orb runs his race back in the Preakness, he will be hard to beat.”
Orb jogged and galloped over a wet track at Belmont Park on Saturday, and is scheduled to ship to Baltimore on Monday.
Eight horses are committed to running in the Preakness, which has a maximum field of 14. Connections for three horses say they may run their horses, while a fourth, Street Spice, was ruled out of contention Saturday.