LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rosie Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, keeping Believe You Can near the front from the start and pulling away from Broadway’s Alibi in the $1 million race at Churchill Downs on Friday.
Napravnik was close in the race last year, finishing second behind Plum Pretty with St. John’s River.
In this one, she took the filly named for the pep talks former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones’ father used to give to the front in the 1 1/8-mile race.
The victory also gave trainer Larry Jones his first Oaks victory since 2008 with Proud Spell. That celebration was cut short when his other filly, Eight Belles, broke down after a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby and was euthanized.
“I’m not going to bring up a lot of things in the past,” Jones said. “We celebrated for 24 hours. At that point, we kind of forgot we had won the Oaks. We’re going to enjoy this one.”
Napravnik lost her Kentucky Derby mount this weekend when the Joneses decided not to run Mark Valeski, but this was a good consolation prize.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t even tell you what I’m feeling right now,” Napravnik said.
“This is what it feels like when your dreams come true.”
“This filly gave us that ‘wow’ factor,” Jones said.
Sent off at 13-1 odds, Believe You Can paid $29.60, $11.80 and $6.40. Broadway’s Alibi returned $6 and $4.20, and favorite Grace Hall paid $3.20 to show.