60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Kentucky Derby 2013 & Female Jockeys

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60 Minutes: Rosie’s Run For The Roses

In advance of the 2013 Kentucky Derby, jockey Rosie Napravnik was profiled on 60 Minutes. Bob Simon said she stands out in the field as a 25-year-old woman excelling at a competitive sport. No woman has ever won this race before, but she could change all that.

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60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik

Rosie Napravnik stands 5’2” and weighs about 110 pounds. She has strength, focus, and fearlessness in a horse race, and she told Simon she does not get nervous. When she’s on a horse is “when I’m most comfortable.”

She has won over 1,500 races since she got into the competitive sport at age 17. In the past year, she has finished in the top three at 60% of her races.

Rosie’s sister, Jazz, is a horse trainer. She said that Rosie has a special touch and connection with the horses she rides in competition. Simon got Jazz to agree that women have more finesse with horses.

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60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Kentucky Oaks

60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Kentucky Derby 2013 & Female Jockeys

In advance of her run at the 2013 Kentucky Derby, 60 Minutes got to know successful female jockey Rosie Napravnik, who has a passion for the sport. (Dennis Donohue / Shutterstock.com)

To hear Rosie explain it, horses can feel your emotions, and relaxing will help your horse relax. Last year, Rosie rode in the Kentucky Oaks, and she won despite 13-1 odds. The horse she was riding that day was appropriately named Believe You Can.

Rosie described the satisfaction of that career high point. For over a century, most jockeys have been men. She admitted that the other jockeys gave her a hard time and attempted to intimidate her. But she seems to have taken it in stride.

She has experienced five serious spills, including one where she was trampled by another horse and broke her leg. She has also broken an arm, her back, and a collarbone. She has picked up a few replacement body parts along the way. I would have probably reconsidered the sport after my first broken bone.

60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Injury

“Any athlete that has an injury, no matter what sport they’re in, normally just wants to know when they can get back to doing their sport,” Rosie told a skeptical Bob Simon.

Her passion for speed and victory have led to her to the Kentucky Derby, the highest profile race of them all. She finished in ninth place in 2011, setting a record for the best finish by a female jockey.

Todd Pletcher is one of many people betting on Rosie, who has experience riding his horse, Shanghai Bobby. They won five consecutive races, and became an early favorite in the 2013 Derby.

60 Minutes: Female Jockeys

Barbara Jo Rubin, an early female jockey decades ago, recalled that trainers thought she was bad luck. Naysayers succeeded in pushing her out of the sport and sending her to the Bahamas.

Later, she became the first female jockey to win a horse race. But the taunts and hassles continued. Though times have changed, it is still rare to see a successful female jockey.

Rosie said that the heckles and harassment endure to this day, though they have probably lessened somewhat. But institutional discrimination continues, and some owners or trainers still refuse to work with women.

“The only way that I deal with that is to try to beat that person in a race,” Rosie said.

60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Childhood

Rosie Napravnik said she thinks of herself as one of the guys, in this rare sport where men and women compete head to head. She said she has to check her weight regularly throughout the day, maintaining at 113 pounds.

She started out riding show ponies as a young girl. That led to her to a win on the racing pony Sweet Sensation. Despite her modest upbringing, Rosie’s mother Cindy knew that her daughter would find her way into the racing world, from the age of seven.

The daughters cleaned stalls in the family stable. Their father, Charles, is a blacksmith who still works to keep horses’ feet in good repair.

60 Minutes: Shanghai Bobby

The family is very impressed with Rosie’s accomplishments. Rosie thinks she is most relaxed on the back of a horse, and that is where she loves to be.

Her husband, Joe, is a horse trainer, and they spend time together at the track. As for Shanghai Bobby, he is having a few stumbling blocks this year. He was diagnosed with a bone fracture and is out of the running for the Kentucky Derby.

60 Minutes: Rosie Napravnik Kentucky Derby 2013

But that doesn’t mean you won’t see Rosie at the races. She said you have to take losses in stride, and she expects that no one can remain at the top forever with such competitive stakes.

You can see her riding My Loot in the 2013 Kentucky Derby; the horse finished second at the recent Louisiana Derby. We’ll see how she does in the May 4 race.

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