01/16/2012 1:30PM

Fair Grounds: Napravnik lands on live one in feature


Rosie Napravnik has a score to settle with a 3-year-old Louisiana-bred colt named Benwill.

It was Benwill who acted up and unseated Napravnik before the start of the sixth race Jan. 8, her fall followed by a trip to a local hospital, where sprains to both ankles and a deep bone bruise were diagnosed.

While Napravnik rode in an ambulance, replacement Robby Albarado rode Benwill to a second-place finish in a one-mile grass race with unusual starter-allowance conditions, a showing that makes Benwill look like a top contender in the featured ninth race Wednesday at Fair Grounds. Albarado has a return call on Benwill, while Napravnik rides a horse that might be favored to take him down, Freddie One Bite. Revenge could be hers.

Obviously, Napravnik, with her no-nonsense approach, won’t be looking at the Wednesday feature through that lens. But the fact that she moves seamlessly from one live mount to another in the same division underscores the strong meet Napravnik is having in New Orleans. Again. A season after becoming the first woman to win a Fair Grounds riding title, Napravnik carried a 10-race lead in the standings, 53-43, entering Wednesday’s action.

Having just returned this past fall from several months lost to injury, the last thing Napravnik needed was more down time. But just three days after hitting the ground thanks to Benwill, Napravnik returned to action. Her six winners last Fair Grounds racing week were second only to Shaun Bridgmohan’s eight, and agent Derek Ducoing continues to find a wide cross-section of live business for Napravnik.

Freddie One Bite, for instance, exits a pair of Louisiana-bred dirt-sprint stakes for this 7 1/2-furlong turf race open to Louisiana-bred entry-level allowance horses or $30,000 claimers. Freddie One Bite, a son of Forest Wildcat, scored his only career win in his lone previous grass start, a one-mile maiden at Euro-style Kentucky Downs last fall, and will be well backed in Wednesday’s ninth.

Benwill, however, can prove a formidable foe, if a mere 10-day break between starts doesn’t negatively impact his performance. He won a Dec. 16 turf sprint in his career debut, and – after getting past his dangerous antics before going to the post – turned in a creditable performance in the one-mile turf race Jan. 8.