10/13/2011 12:02PM

Delaware Park: Napravnik returns to saddle; New Castle Stakes tops card


Saturday’s nine-race card at Delaware Park features four $75,000 stakes for Delaware-certified horses, but the real star attraction is Rosie Napravnik, who is scheduled to resume riding for the first time since she was injured in a spill three months ago.

Napravnik, 23, was atop the jockey standings with 36 wins in her quest to repeat as Delaware’s leading rider when her mount Naseeb broke down during the running of a five-furlong turf sprint July 7. Napravnik fractured her left wrist for the second time in the spill, her fifth major injury since she began her career in 2005.

Napravnik is named on five mounts Saturday, including contenders in three of the four stakes.

“I am very excited about riding again,” Napravnik said. “I have been working hard on getting fit and I am ready to ride. I feel like I have done it all the right way. I have given my wrist the time to heal properly, I have been working out, and I have been breezing horses in the morning.” Napravnik said she intends to ride at Delaware until the meet ends Nov. 5. She will then head south to New Orleans, where she was leading rider at Fair Grounds last winter.

In Saturday’s stakes, Napravnik will ride the 2-year-old colt Coach Fridge, runner-up in the Maryland Million Nursery two weeks ago, in the 5 1/2-furlong First State Dash (race 7); Funky Munky Mama, winner of a first-level allowance for New York-breds early in Saratoga’s meet, in the six-furlong Tax Free Shopping Distaff for fillies and mares (race 8); and The Funky Express, who steps directly to stakes company in the 5 1/2-furlong Small Wonder (race 9) after scoring by 6 1/2 lengths in a maiden claimer for New York-breds at Saratoga.

Napravnik is not involved in the best of the four Saturday stakes, the six-furlong New Castle (race 6). The 3-year-old Poseidon’s Warrior, second in the $250,000 Gallant Bob at Parx Racing three weeks ago, will meet the 4-year-old Escrow Kid, a close third behind Jackson Bend in the James Marvin at Saratoga. Both Poseidon’s Warrior and Escrow Kid also competed in Grade 1 events near the end of the Saratoga meet.

Posideon’s Warrior, third in the First State Dash on last year’s program honoring Delaware-bred and Delaware-certified horses, has recorded Beyer Speed Figures in the narrow range between 98 and 101 in three of his last four starts. The exception came when he flashed early speed but faded to sixth in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop.

Escrow Kid, winless in six stakes appearances, earned a career-best 101 Beyer for his third-place finish in the Marvin, three lengths behind Jackson Bend, who came back to captue the Grade 1 Forego. Escrow Kid will be making his first start since racing up close through the first half-mile of the seven-furlong Forego before weakening to wind up sixth.

The six-horse field also includes Nathan’s H Q, a 4-year-old who won last year’s New Castle. His best race in five starts this year came in February, when he was third, beaten three-quarters of a length, while earning a 100 Beyer in an overnight stakes at Gulfstream Park.

In the other stakes:

◗ Jack’s in the Deck, winner of the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont Park in early July, is among three 2-year-olds coming back two weeks after running in the Maryland Million Nursery.

The Maryland-based Jack’s in the Deck, fourth as the 2-1 favorite in the Nursery, is rematched with Coach Fridge and Won the War, the second- and third-place Nursery finishers.

◗ Napravnik may have the favorite for the Distaff in Funky Munky Mama, who missed by a head in last fall’s Small Wonder for 2-year-old fillies. The main threats are Players Court, coming off back-to-back victories by a combined 9 3/4 lengths, and Comet of Love, runner-up in last year’s Distaff and winner of the restricted Jameela at Laurel Park last time out.

◗ The logical favorite in the Small Wonder is Dancing Anna, who got up by a head in the $75,000 Miss Shenandoah at Charles Town last month and was third in the Grade 2 Matron at Belmont in early July.

◗ Saturday is officially Havre de Grace Day in the state of Delaware, in honor of the locally owned Delaware-certified 4-year-old filly. Havre de Grace, owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm, will make her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. A win would likely clinch Horse of the Year honors.

In celebration of the day, the first 1,000 fans at Delaware Park will receive an 8-by-10 commemorative photo of Havre de Grace.