Breeders’ Cup: Napravnik wins Distaff atop Untapable, says she’ll retire

Rosie Napravnik celebrates after riding Untapable to victory during the 2014 Breeder's Cup Distaff, moments before announcing her retirement.

Harry How/Getty Images

 

Rosie Napravnik was riding with a secret, and she couldn’t keep it any longer once Untapable won the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff.

Napravnik stunned a crowd of 37,205 at Santa Anita and a national television audience by announcing she will retire Sunday. The 26-year-old jockey later said she is seven weeks pregnant.

"I don’t know if I had won on another horse if I would have said anything," Napravnik said. "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."

Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Distaff in the race’s 31-year history. She will ride in four of the nine Cup races on Saturday before calling it quits.

She is married to Joe Sharp, who recently went out on his own as a trainer and has found success in Kentucky.

"His career is brand new and thriving," Napravnik said. "It’s kind of good timing. He’s going to step into the limelight, and I’m going to step out."

She had planned to tell her mother about her pregnancy at dinner Friday night and announce the news publicly after Saturday’s races, but Untapable helped change her mind.

"She just ran excellent today," said Napravnik, who was aboard for Untapable’s fourth Grade 1 win this year. Napravnik missed the filly’s win in the Mother Goose because of injury. "Down the backside, I could not have had more confidence."

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Her mother, Cindy, looked on in shock as Napravnik spilled the beans on TV.

Napravnik won her first race in June 2005 and became the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks with Believe You Can in 2012. She and Untapable teamed to win the Oaks in May. Napravnik joined Julie Krone as the only female riders to win a Cup race.

Napravnik’s best finish in a Triple Crown race was third in the 2013 Preakness with Mylute.

Napravnik, who finished second aboard Tapiture in the $1 million Dirt Mile earlier, didn’t rule out a return to the saddle someday.

"It’s indefinite. I’m not thinking about a comeback in 10 months," she said, adding, "I can’t promise to stay off a horse forever."

Untapable won by 1 1/4 lengths, running 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.68 and paying $5.20, $3.40 and $2.60 as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 11.

Don’t Tell Sophia returned $4.60 and $3.40, while Iotapa was another nose back in third and paid $4 to show.

Napravnik pumped her right hand after crossing the finish line, having secured her second career Breeders’ Cup victory. She won the 2012 Juvenile with Shanghai Bobby.

It was the fifth Cup win for trainer Steve Asmussen, and his biggest since winning the $5 million Classic with Curlin in 2007.

"Rosie and she are a great combination, and they have had a tremendous season," Asmussen said. "She’s an amazing mare to put us on this stage and to perform like she did."

Asmussen also trains Tapiture, who lost his race by 1 1/4 lengths.

Untapable lugged in on Iotapa on the rail in the stretch, but the stewards did not post the inquiry sign.

The path to the winner’s circle was made clearer when Beholder didn’t defend her title after she spiked a fever recently.

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