Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, keeping Believe You Can near the front from the start before pulling away from Broadway’s Alibi in the $1 million race for 3-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs on Friday.
“I wouldn’t say there was pressure because the expectations were nobody had ever done it before,” the 24-year-old rider said after her first Grade 1 stakes victory. “It’s great for all the women in the industry, in the world. I’m just happy.”
In the fillies’ counterpart to the Kentucky Derby, Napravnik finally broke through after finishing second last year behind Plum Pretty aboard St. John’s River.
In this one, she took the filly named for the pep talks former Kentucky Gov. Brereton C. Jones’ father gave him to the front in the 1 1/8-mile race with an impressive stretch run.
“My father had told me from the very beginning when he made a little plaque to hang in my bedroom with the word ‘can’t’ on it. C-A-N-apostrophe-T with a big X across it,” the former governor said. “Believe you can and you can.”
SUSPENDED: Jockey Robby Albarado was indefinitely suspended from racing Friday by Churchill Downs stewards after he was arrested by police and charged with accosting a woman who said she was trying to break up with him.
The arrest came hours before he was scheduled to ride the filly Hard Not to Like in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks, the female version of the Kentucky Derby.
He was charged with fourth-degree assault and released from local jail on his own recognizance, authorities said.
The action meant the loss of Albarado’s Derby Day mounts at Churchill.