Friday, May 31, 2013
Napravnik likely has Belmont mount
By Steve Haskin Bloodhorse
Trainer Todd Pletcher said in a national teleconference May 30 that jockey Rosie Napravnik was "very likely" to ride Unlimited Budget in the June 8 Belmont Stakes if the filly competes in the third leg of the Triple Crown.
A final decision will be made after Unlimited Budget works June 2.
Napravnik, who won the May 25 Acorn Stakes aboard Midnight Lucky, has ridden Unlimited Budget, a daughter of Street Sense -- Unlimited Pleasure, by Valid Appeal on one other occasion. They won the Feb. 23 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots by nearly four lengths.
The Mike Repole-owned filly was ridden in her last two starts -- a win in the March 30 Fair Grounds Oaks and a third-place finish in the May 3 Kentucky Oaks -- by Javier Castellano, who will be aboard Revolutionary in the Belmont.
If Unlimited Budget runs, Napravnik would attempt to become the only female rider to win the Belmont Stakes besides Julie Krone, who won on Colonial Affair in 1993. Napravnik also would be the only female rider to compete in all three Triple Crown races in the same year, having finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness aboard Mylute. Those finishes were the best by a female rider in each race.
Pletcher said he is impressed with Unlimited Budget's physical prowess and the fact she is by stamina sire Street Sense, but is a little bit concerned about her female family, which is predominantly speed-oriented. Following her last work, Repole said she was "75-25" to run in the Belmont, with the June 22 Mother Goose Stakes as the alternative.
"The bottom side of her pedigree isn't as deep in stamina as Rags to Riches," Pletcher said in comparing Unlimited Budget to his 2007 Belmont Stakes winner. "So we're looking at that closely and see how her work goes this weekend. The biggest thing about Rags to Riches' pedigree is that she is so stoutly bred, sired by a Belmont winner [A.P. Indy] and being a half sister to a Belmont winner [Jazil]. Both are big strong fillies. She carries a lot of condition and will fit right in from a physical standpoint.
"If you look at Unlimited Budget's speed figures, they match up against these colts. The key is getting the mile and a half. She's won at a mile and a sixteenth twice this year and won going a mile and an eighth as a 2-year-old, so that's encouraging and suggests she can compete in here."
Pletcher has three definite starters for the Belmont in Revolutionary, Palace Malice, and Overanalyze. The last named also is owned by Repole, who may run Midnight Taboo as well. That would make him the first owner to run three horses in the Belmont since 1875.
Napravnik's first Triple Crown race was the 2011 Kentucky Derby, where she finished ninth aboard Pants On Fire. She was the sixth woman to ride in the Derby.
She became the third woman to ride in the Preakness, joining Patty Cooksey (sixth with Tajwa in 1985) and Andrea Seefeldt (seventh with Looming in 1994).
Last year, she became only the second female rider in the Belmont, finishing fifth aboard Five Sixteen. Krone rode in the Belmont four times.