Despite steady success over many years, top thoroughbred jockey Rosie Napravnik says she still encounters bias from trainers and owners who prefer a man aboard their horses and has to put up with male jockeys who try to taunt and intimidate her because of her gender. Napravnik tells Bob Simon the best way to deal with such prejudice is by beating her antagonists on the track. She has done just that. As she readies to ride in the Kentucky Derby, Napravnik is not only the sport's hottest jockey, she is also the only female riding in thoroughbred racing's top event and one of only a handful of successful female jockeys in the sport's history. Simon profiles the 25-year-old Napravnik on 60 Minutes Sunday, April 28 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Napravnik has steered horses to winnings of $48 million since she began riding professionally eight years ago, a good record that can change attitudes. So, says Napravnik, "Most of the time I feel like I'm just one of the guys."
Still, some in racing don't think women belong on their horses. "There are still owners and trainers that don't want to ride a female. The only way that I deal with that is...to try to beat that person in a race," she tells Simon. And she has. Her mounts have been in the money almost 60 percent of the time this year.
Spectators will use her gender to try to get in her head as she prepares to race. "Go home and have a baby! Go home and stay in the kitchen," Napravnik says she hears sometimes.
If toughness is what the naysayers think her gender lacks, her success despite a long list of injuries belies that in a big way. Napravnik has already broken her back, collarbone, left arm and snapped her wrist in two. She now carries a metal rod in her leg - she broke that, too. Doctors also inserted a plate in her arm. Yet, she gets back up every time.
"Any athlete that has an injury, no matter what sport they're in, normally just wants to know when they can get back to doing their sport," she says.
She rode in the Derby two years ago and finished ninth, "It was just like the biggest thing that I've experienced," she tells Simon. When she returns to Kentucky on May 4 for her second try at winning the sport's top event, she will ride Mylute, who came in a close second in the Louisiana Derby. Asked if she ever gets nervous racing, she replies, "I don't ever really remember a time when I got really nervous," she tells Simon. "That's when I'm most comfortable."
Napravnik comes from a New Jersey family that makes its living on horses and groomed her from an early age for her career. Simon also interviews her family members.