Now 25, Napravnik has achieved far too much to mask her identity.
With her fifth-place finish aboard Mylute in the May 4 Kentucky Derby, Napravnik holds the top two finishes by a female jockey at Churchill Downs, having ridden Pants on Fire to a ninth-place finish in 2011.
On Saturday, she’ll become just the third woman (and first since 1994) to compete in the Preakness Stakes. She enters the weekend second overall in wins this season (123) and fifth overall in purses ($5,186,563).
And “Rosie,” the name Anna Rose Napravnik now lists on her official racing biography, isn’t a barrier but a respected calling-card in thoroughbred racing. Should she become the first woman to win the second jewel of the Triple Crown, Rosie Napravnik might become a household name, as well.
The spotlight isn’t something the 5-foot-2, 113-pound rider craves. But if standing in it would help publicize the sport she loves, she’s more than willing to do so.
“I’m not one that thrives in the limelight at all, but a lot of young girls have been inspired by women who have done very well in male-dominated sports, and I think that’s great for women and great for the sport,” Napravnik said in a telephone interview.
“If I can be a part of drawing attention to a great sport, I’d do anything I can. “
To that end, Napravnik has enlisted the help of Octagon Sports, the McLean-based marking agency that has helped swimming find a broader audience (Michael Phelps is among its clients) and made cult heroes of champion snowboarders, skateboarders and mountain climbers.
Napravnik is the first jockey Octagon has represented.
While hardly steeped in thoroughbred racing, Peter Carlisle, managing director of Octagon’s Olympics & Action Sports division, said he knew instinctively that Napravnik had the potential to expand horse-racing’s audience by making a tradition-laden sport relevant to the general public.
For starters, he points to the gap between the teeming ranks of teenage girls who participate in equestrian sports (according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, 74 percent of “core” horseback riders 13 and older are female) and the meager ranks of female jockeys.
“I don’t need to be that sophisticated to think, ‘That doesn’t add up,’” Carlisle said. “There is an opportunity of historical significance.”
But for Napravnik’s narrative to transcend horse racing, she’ll have to achieve more “firsts” to go with her ground-breaking victories in the 2011 Louisiana Derby and 2012 Kentucky Oaks.
In 1993, Julie Krone became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, riding Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes. Two decades later, Krone’s feat stands alone.