Napravnik Beats 74-to-1 Odds at Laurel

By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Just about every trainer in Maryland these days talks about the Napravnik magic. It is as if the young apprentice ruling the Laurel Park jockey colony can cast a spell that makes horses run like they never have before.

Yesterday, the mystique surrounding Anna Rose Napravnik went from the remarkable to the implausible as she guided an apparently hopeless 74-to-1 long shot named Our Peak past seven horses in the stretch to score a stunning victory by a neck in the $85,000 Private Terms Stakes.

The unlikely winner in the race for 3-year-olds triggered a win payoff of $149.80, a $960.80 exacta and a $5,146.20 triple. A Maryland-bred gelding owned by Wayne Harrison, assistant coach of the University of Maryland women's rugby team, Our Peak entered the Private Terms with little more on his résumé than two nondescript victories at Charles Town.

In eighth place and looking beaten heading for home, Our Peak came to life under Napravnik in the stretch, passing six horses in a determined rally before finally catching leader Ah Day at the wire to take the one-turn mile race in 1 minute 38.66 seconds.

Track announcer Dave Rodman broke into laughter even before the race was over, clearly relishing watching the longest-priced horse in the field of 11 bear down on the finish line. "Rosie's magic at a long-shot price!" Rodman cried.

In the winner's circle after the race, Napravnik, 18, looked like she had been winning stakes races all her life. In fact, she picked up her first last week when Reckless Ways won the Harrison Johnson Memorial Handicap at Laurel.

Standing beside trainer Katherine Voss, Napravnik complained that Our Peak didn't want to change leads.

"Actually, I thought he was getting tired on the turn," she said, "but when I tapped him on the shoulder he went on from there."

Voss looked at her jockey. "Did he ever change leads?"

"Nope," Napravnik said.

While not a major prep race on the road to the Kentucky Derby, three of the past four winners of the Private Terms have wound up running in the Preakness Stakes, including 2002 runner-up Magic Weisner.

Voss said Our Peak entered the Private Terms only because the Laurel Park racing office had repeatedly been unable to get a second-level allowance race to fill.

"We didn't have any choice," Voss said. "We planned to run him a mile all along. The [allowance] race didn't fill three times. It's tough to get long races for 3-year-olds this time of year."

The race was brimming with horses that looked better than Our Peak, including third-place finisher Sunshine Alpine, who last raced in the Gotham Stakes in New York, and Ah Day, who was coming off a victory in the Horatius Stakes. Both put in strong runs, particularly Ah Day, who led by 3 1/2 lengths in the stretch under jockey Ryan Fogelsonger.

Fogelsonger works out Our Peak in the mornings for Voss, but opted to ride Ah Day, a proven commodity in stakes races. Voss had no problem going with Napravnik, who has won 77 races in 51 days this year.

"She wins more races here than anybody else," Voss said.

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