05/07/2012 3:56PM

Belmont: Napravnik has little time to bask in Kentucky Oaks glory

Barbara D. Livingston
Rosie Napravnik has good reason to smile after riding Believe You Can to victory in the Kentucky Oaks.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Even some 64 hours after becoming the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks, Rosie Napravnik still hadn’t had time to appreciate the accomplishment fully.

Monday morning, Napravnik spoke to her public relations manager, Kelly Wietsma, to ask her to send links to articles and photos about Friday’s Oaks, which Napravnik won aboard Believe You Can, because she hadn’t seen much of the aftermath.

Though her plane was delayed three hours, Napravnik flew back to New York on Saturday morning where she won one race from five mounts at Belmont Park. After going “to sleep as soon as possible,” Napravnik went 1 for 5 again at Belmont on Sunday, winning the $100,000 Times Square division of the New York Stallion Stakes aboard 5-1 shot I’ll Stake U, who upset 2-5 favorite Sportswriter.

Through the first eight days of her first Belmont meet, Napravnik is 7 for 42, third in the rider standings.

Monday morning, Napravnik was back out at Belmont, where she guided Mark Valeski through a five-furlong workout in 59.66 seconds over the Belmont main track. Mark Valeski was supposed to be Napravnik’s mount for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, but trainer Larry Jones and owner Brereton Jones – the same connections as Believe You Can – held him out of the race to await Saturday’s Grade 2 Peter Pan.

“It’s been extremely busy,” Napravnik, 24, said after the work. “Today’s my reflection day. I’m still on Cloud 9.”

Napravnik said she felt so confident on Believe You Can in the post parade of the Oaks that she told herself she was going to win the race.

“I loved this filly since first time I sat on her, and I had ultra-confidence with her every time, and she really continues to impress me,” said Napravnik, who is 3 for 4 aboard Believe You Can. I told a few people somehow in the post parade I felt I’m going to win this I just know I’m going to, so it wasn’t like a big surprise or unexpected win. It was just unbelievable. It was one of those dream-come-true sort of things.”

Napravnik was also dreaming about becoming the first woman to ride consecutive runnings of the Kentukcy Derby. She rode Pants On Fire to a ninth-place finish last year.

But Larry Jones didn’t feel that Mark Valeski had worked as well for the Derby in his final breeze as did Believe You Can for the Oaks. Napravnik worked Mark Valeski two works back, but not in his final breeze.

“The filly just worked unbelievably fast, and she skips over that track, but she’s a different kind of work horse,” Napravnik said. “She’s more eager, more into it, she’ll do whatever you let her do. Valeski is more of the type where he’ll do what you make him do. I guess [Jones] didn’t get that ‘Oh my goodness’ feeling from Mark’s work.”

Napravnik said she got a good feeling from the way Mark Valeski worked Monday at Belmont. Valeski was flown to New York on Sunday and stepped onto Belmont’s main track for the first time just before 9 a.m.

Working by himself, Mark Valeski went in fractions of 12.03 seconds, 24.03, and 35.51, and got his final quarter in 24.15. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.40.

“He worked great this morning. He feels great. It seems like every time I work him he works in 59 and 3,” Napravnik said. “He was his normal self. He feels good. He took to the track well and galloped out really well. He actually galloped out a little better than he normally does, because he can get a little lazy in the morning.”

After a whirlwind couple of days, Napravnik was hoping to have herself a lazy Monday afternoon.