01/14/2009 12:00AM

Napravnik proving herself in N.Y.


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The expected slow start at this meet for jockey Anna Napravnik has been followed by the equally predictable fast recovery.

With three wins last weekend and an ever-expanding client base, Napravnik seems poised to make an impact in the Aqueduct jockey colony this winter, her first time on this circuit. After a 2-for-34 start, Napravnik is now 8 for 65 and is tied for eighth in wins in the standings.

"It started out really slow - it was frustrating - it's just the way that it goes," said Napravnik, the leading rider in wins in Maryland two of the last three years. "We're picking up momentum, we're just trying to carry that, keep it going."

Last Friday, Napravnik was not named on a horse. She's named on five mounts this Friday and seven on Saturday. With jockeys Stewart Elliott, Victor Lebron, and Ariel Smith having departed - and with any continued success - Napravnik figures to remain in high demand.

Though Napravnik won 300 races in 2006 - the majority in Maryland - and was the runner-up for the Eclipse Award as leading apprentice that year, not every New York trainer was familiar with her. In fact, some rode Napravnik - who rode 176 winners in 2008 - because she was being represented by the former New York trainer Bob Klesaris.

"I knew Bob Klesaris knows the business and wouldn't come here with a jock unless he knew that jock was competitive, so that's why I gave her the chance," said trainer Dominic Galluscio, for whom Napravnik has ridden one winner from nine mounts. "Then when she was on my first horse, I looked at her record and win percentage and I said nobody could win that many races - I don't care where it is - by being a bad rider."

Klesaris said December was more of a struggle getting business than he anticipated, but now he says he's getting eight to 14 calls a day.

"Now my problem is like everybody else, races going," he said.

Napravnik, 20, has had a problem staying healthy. Since beginning her career in 2005, she has suffered four injuries that required her to miss a significant amount of time. She injured a collarbone, back, wrist, and, last August, she suffered a broken leg. Where it was expected she would miss a minimum of four months, Napravnik was back galloping horses in two.

Napravnik went through extensive and exhaustive rehabilitation for her leg, which was followed by a program where she worked out four hours a day, five days a week "to get back to the condition I was before I was injured," she said.

Klesaris said that is symbolic of her tenaciousness.

"She's a tough cookie," Klesaris said. "She has that sweet disposition off the horse, but she's a pit bull when she gets on one. She's very confident, she doesn't take no for an answer. Tell her she can't do something, that's the best way to approach her."

Despite her injuries, Napravnik said at no time did she ever think of doing anything else.

"No, apparently I'm not that smart," she said. "The only thing I can think about when I'm laid up is getting back."

Napravnik said riding horses was the only thing she's thought about since she was 7. At the time, her mother managed a large boarding facility in Bedminster, N.J., and Napravnik was riding in pony races beginning at 7. Her father is a private farrier who doesn't work on the track.

"I was riding before I could walk," Napravnik said.

Napravnik said her primary goal for this winter is to prove she can be competitive on this circuit. She plans to return to Delaware when that meet opens in April, and hopes to continue making New York a winter home.

Judiths Wild Rush back for more

The race formerly known as the Aqueduct Handicap will be run Saturday for the first time as the Evening Attire, in honor of the gray gelding who won stakes races through the age of 10.

Among the five horses entered in the Evening Attire is Judiths Wild Rush, an 8-year-old gray son of Wild Rush who has won a stakes race every year since his 2-year-old campaign of 2003.

Judiths Wild Rush, a former Sovereign Award winner, will be making his 58th career start in the Evening Attire. He has crossed the finish line first only once in his last 28 starts, though he was placed first by the stewards in the 2007 Native Dancer Stakes at Laurel.

Judiths Wild Rush comes off a solid second to Fearless Vision in an optional claiming race here Dec. 5.

"He's training very well for the race, I look forward to him performing well," said Julian Canet, who trains Judiths Wild Rush for owner Harvey Tenenbaum. "The horse is a sound horse, he's healthy, the owner has no intention of doing anything but running him when he's right."

Judiths Wild Rush finished third in this race last year, a length behind Angliana and a nose behind Evening Attire, who won this race in 2002.

Judiths Wild Rush will break from the rail under Jeffrey Sanchez. Outside of him will be Barrier Reef, Brilliant Son, Broadway Producer, and Barcola.