In the male-dominated sport of horse racing, there's currently one female rising star to cheer on: Rosie Napravnik, who is a favorite to win the Kentucky Derby tomorrow.
Since riding onto the scene nine years ago, Napravnik has more than proved her worth in the sport. As covered by the Associated Press:
Nine years later, Rosie Napravnik is one of the rising stars in the sport, having long ago discarded her ruse. Now the 26-year-old from New Jersey will try to make history this weekend and become the first woman to ride a Kentucky Derby winner.
She's achieved firsts before. She was the first woman to win the Louisiana Derby, and did it twice. She also was the highest-placing female rider in the Kentucky Derby, finishing fifth last year aboard Mylute. She was the first woman to win a riding title at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans in 2011, with 34 more victories than the runner-up.
She was the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks, a $1 million race run on Derby eve, and has a strong chance to win it again Friday with early 4-5 favorite Untapable. Her mount in the Derby on Saturday is 20-1 long shot Vicar's In Trouble.
Napravnik has also made strides for her gender in the sport. Our previous coverage has outlined her struggles in being taken seriously as a woman; the AP article notes how she used to ride under her initials, like JK Rowling disguised her gender so that it wouldn't get in the way of sales for Harry Potter.
As for tomorrow, Napravnik has her work cut out for her. The horse she is riding, Vicar's In Trouble, is in the tough No. 1 spot at the starting gate. She has to account for the course's railing cutting into Vicar's In Trouble's path, while fighting with 19 other outside riders for a good position. Good thing Rosie is known for being an aggressive rider. After the Derby, she's serving a four-day suspension for making contact with another horse during the Derby Trial, a move that also caused officials to bump her horse from first to second place.
Image via Getty.