Spa Stars: Napravnik aims high

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Rosie Napravnik will be back in action at Saratoga this summer, fresh off a solid spring that saw her post the best finish of any female jockey in Kentucky Derby history and become the first female rider with a mount in all three U.S. classics.

Napravnik was based at Saratoga last summer, and won the Grade 1 Hopeful on eventual champion Shanghai Bobby and the Grade 2 Sanford on Bern Identity. She says she’s ready for another strong meet in 2013.

“I’m trying to continue to compete and do well in these big races,” Napravnik said from her golf cart on Saratoga’s backside Thursday morning. “I love riding in the big races every weekend with good horses.”

Some of those good ones include Mylute and Midnight Lucky, two horses that Napravnik says that she is most excited to ride this meet.

Napravnik’s ridden at quite a few racetracks in her riding career, but feels Saratoga stands on its own for offered a “completely different atmosphere all around.”

“Everything is focused on the racing up here,” she said. “Everyone comes to the races. There are lots of families and kids. It’s definitely the place to be during the summer.”

Napravnik started riding at a young age in 2005, when she started on the Maryland circuit at Pimlico and Laurel. She said riding at Saratoga was “always a dream from a very young age.”

“At the time, I really didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “Just getting to my first race seemed surreal to me.”

With all of the top-level jockeys that are competing at Saratoga this meet, Napravnik says that there would be nothing better than winning a riding title at the historic track.

Napravnik gets her meet started with six mounts on the 10-race opening-day card. Her stakes mounts for the weekend include Brazen Persuasion for Steve Asmussen in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes Friday and Kitten’s Queen in Saturday’s My Princess Jess Stakes for Wayne Catalano. She will team up with Asmussen once again Sunday in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes aboard Southern Blessing.

This is one in a series of articles previewing the Saratoga Race Course meeting, which opens Friday. Be sure to check back between now and then for more and pick up a copy of The Saratoga Special if you’re in town or jump on TIHR to download digital editions of the daily publication.