May 4, 2013 in Sports

Rosie wants roses

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Rosie Napravnik will ride Mylute in her bid to make history in today’s 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.
(Full-size photo)

Rosie Napravnik isn’t worried about history. She is, however, working on her chemistry – with a horse named Mylute in the Kentucky Derby.

Two years after achieving the best finish by a female jockey in the Derby, she will try to become the first woman to win it. Napravnik’s pursuit of the milestone comes a year after she became the first female rider to win the Kentucky Oaks, the second-biggest race on Churchill Downs’ marquee weekend.

Mylute is a 15-1 shot to win the Derby today, but his last win came in December with Napravnik aboard. That performance offered a glimpse into her ability to get the most out of a horse, something she has shown in being the leading rider at four tracks.

Napravnik is confident Mylute will give her a strong ride

“Mylute will definitely come from off the pace because that’s his style,” said Napravnik, who will start from the No. 6 post position. “That’s not a bad style to have when the race is a mile and a quarter. It’s very long, so if you can have a horse that can stay relaxed in the first part, that’s definitely to your advantage.”

For her part, Napravnik has been more relaxed preparing for her second Derby appearance. That hasn’t been easy considering the barrage of questions about her attempt to do what six women, including herself, have failed to do in 138 previous Derbys against male jockeys.

Having gone through the Derby experience in 2011 while guiding Pants On Fire to a ninth-place finish, Napravnik feels more like a veteran the second time around.

“It’s nice to have the experience of when I was here two years ago,” she said. “It’s a little less overwhelming and I know what to expect. I’ve been able to handle it better.

“A lot has happened in my career since I was here two years ago. I think I’ve been more recognized, it’s very flattering and everybody has been very positive. Winning the Kentucky Oaks last year was probably the greatest moment of my career.”

Oilmen have horse in field

Two Williston Basin, N.D., oilmen say they expect Frac Daddy – the horse they have running in the Kentucky Derby – to be a favorite of oil field workers everywhere.

Billings residents Carter Stewart and Ken Schlenker own the 3-year-old thoroughbred whose name is a take on the oil drilling technique known as fracking.

“We’ve got a huge fan base because we’ve made him a tribute to all the oil field workers in America and especially the Williston Basin,” Stewart told The Forum newspaper of Fargo, N.D. The Williston Basin spans the Dakotas and Montana, with about two-thirds of the acreage in western North Dakota.

Frac Daddy’s odds of winning were posted at 50-1 on Friday, but Stewart said he is optimistic his horse can run for the roses.

“It’s a horse race,” he said. “Everybody’s got a shot.”

Black Onyx scratched

Long shot Black Onyx is a late scratch for the Kentucky Derby, leaving 19 horses to vie for the roses.

The scratch occurred Friday after early wagering for the race was opened, so Black Onyx’s No. 1 post position will be left empty on Saturday. The remaining horses will stay in their original starting-gate positions.

The scratch came too late for Fear the Kitten to get into the Derby. The colt was on the list of also eligibles as the 21st qualifier in the point standings which determine the field.

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