Going 40 mph on thoroughbreds is her profession and her passion. But out of the saddle, Rosie Napravnik prefers staying in one place.
"I guess if there's one downfall of being a jockey it would be the lifestyle of traveling all the time,'' the 24-year-old New Jersey native said. "But you've got to travel with the business, and I've been fortunate enough to come across some very talented and very special horses in the last few years, so I've really enjoyed it.''
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One of them is the undefeated 2-year-old Shanghai Bobby, one of the favorites in Saturday's Grade I, mile Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park. But before Napravnik gives him his final prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Lynbrook resident (but not for long) flew to Lexington, Ky., for opening day Friday at Keeneland.
"Shanghai Bobby is maturing all the time, and I don't think we've seen nearly his best,'' she said. "He's versatile and will do whatever you ask. He's just always going the right way. I'm looking forward to the stretchout.''
Along with Shanghai Bobby, trainer Todd Pletcher has entered two other highly regarded colts in the Champagne, Archwarrior and Micromanage, both impressive debut winners at Saratoga. Micromanage also is entered in the Dover Stakes on Saturday at Delaware Park.
Pletcher also has the heavy favorite in the Grade I Frizette Stakes at a mile for 2-year-old fillies, Dreaming of Julia, who dominated her two starts by a combined 263/4 lengths. The card's third stakes, the Grade I Jamaica Handicap for 3-year-olds at 11/8 miles on the turf, features Summer Front, who's 5-for-6 on grass, with four stakes victories.
Napravnik has called Long Island her temporary home since April, when she became a regular on the New York circuit for the first time. On May 4 at Churchill Downs, she achieved a gender milestone by taking the $1-million Kentucky Oaks on the aptly named Believe You Can. Despite enduring an 0-for-48 slump at Saratoga, she won 21 races there and finished eighth in the standings at North America's most prestigious meeting.
"A lot of things have happened this year -- winning the Oaks, which was historic, and my second title at the Fair Grounds, and winning a couple of stakes at Saratoga,'' she said. "But it's been a little up and down, and I've moved around a lot. I'm just hoping to finish it out as well as it started.''
Napravnik and her husband, Joe Sharp, an assistant trainer for Mike Maker, will celebrate their first anniversary Tuesday. Hunch bettors will be all over her mount in Keeneland's fifth race Friday -- Anniversary Girl.
After Keeneland ends Oct. 26, Napravnik will compete for a week at Churchill before heading to Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., for the Breeders' Cup Nov. 2-3. Then she'll enjoy a long-delayed honeymoon. "It's been a year, so I figured it was about time,'' she said, "and I just put my foot down.''
Joe and travel-averse Rosie will be heading to South Africa for a unique vacation. "The travel agent was surprised to hear we wanted to go on a horseback safari,'' Napravnik said.
Their faraway destination may seem surprising, but not the mode of transport upon arrival. When horses are in your blood, you never can get away from them for long.