From the Paulick Report
Jockey Rosie Napravnik shocked the racing world on Friday afternoon when she announced her impending retirement on NBC Sports while accepting her trophy for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Napravnik is expecting a baby with husband and trainer Joe Sharp.
Napravnik, whose mother Cindy was on stage with her, told media she had been planning to reveal the news on Sunday, but couldn’t think of a better time to make the announcement than on the heels of a Distaff victory. It was also the first time an emotional Cindy Napravnik had heard the news. Napravnik later confirmed to media that she is seven weeks pregnant.
“I’ve been planning the retirement since I found out that I was pregnant,” Napravnik said. “I would have waited ‑‑ my plan was to wait until after the weekend, and I don’t know if I had won on another horse if I would have said anything.
“This filly has just been very special to me, and it’s a very special way to go out, so I just couldn’t resist because they asked me how much it meant to me.”
She also said that while she does not expect to be returning to the saddle in a matter of months, she cannot rule out an eventual comeback.
Earlier in the day, she also finished second with Tapiture behind Goldencents in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. She is scheduled to ride four horses in tomorrow’s races: Top Decile (Juvenile Fillies), Emollient (Filly & Mare Turf), Mico Margarita (Sprint), and Tourist (Mile). Her plans to ride on Saturday have not changed.
Napravnik leaves the sport after a banner year that included a Kentucky Oaks win aboard Untapable and a jockey title at the Keeneland fall meet, which concluded earlier this month. She notched riding titles at all four meets at Pimlico and Laurel in 2006, three consecutive riding titles at Fair Grounds, and one earlier riding title at Keeneland. Napravnik was the first woman to ride in all three Triple Crown races, finishing third in the 2013 Preakness aboard Mylute. At age 26, she has two Kentucky Oaks wins to her name and two Breeders’ Cup victories as of Friday.
Her accomplishments are in spite of several lay-offs–in 2006, she was off for a broken collarbone, in 2007 for compression fractures of several vertebrae, broken leg, and a broken wrist (separate incidents), in 2011 for a broken wrist, in 2012 for a broken toe, and in 2014 for a separation of her clavicle.
Napravnik hails from New Jersey, where she said she first identified her goal of becoming a jockey at the age of seven when she began riding in pony races. She took out a license with the National Steeplechase Association at the age of 16 and picked up her first win as an apprentice in 2005. She finished second to Julien Leparoux for the Eclipse Award for apprentice jockey in 2006. When she began her career, she rode as ‘A.R. Napravnik’ to avoid being recognized in the program as a woman.
She currently ranks sixth in the country by earnings this year and has total earnings of $69,676,887. Her career win record is 1,876 from 9,708 starts.
Sharp and Napravnik were married in 2011 and split their time between New Orleans and Louisville.
Napravnik later released the following statement to the media:
“Joe and I are absolutely overjoyed by the news of our first child together, due in June! Although I will certainly miss being in the saddle I am extremely excited to become a mom. I have been so incredibly fortunate in this business and I feel as though I have had the opportunities to experience the very best of the racing industry and for that I am so grateful! My retirement is indefinite. A comeback is something I may consider in a few years, but for now the 110 percent that I have put into racing for the past 10 years will be focused on being a mom and supporting my husband in his new and thriving career as a trainer.”