Female jockey rides for Kentucky Derby history

Only five women have ever ridden the in the Kentucky Derby, and none has finished better than 11th place. Next Saturday, a budding superstar hopes to make history as the first woman to win.

The sun doesn't always shine bright on the old Kentucky home, but a cold morning drizzle can't keep Cindy Napravnik from the rail: her daughter is a week away from the biggest race of her life.

"She has a special talent and a special way with horses," Cindy Napravnik said.

CBS News weekend anchor Russ Mitchell reports that 23-year-old jockey Rosie Napravnik is known to some as the racetrack version of "The Natural."

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"I can't remember a time when I wasn't involved with horses, or surrounded by them or focused on them," Napravnik said.

Napravnik literally grew up on the pony race circuit, a red-headed bullet, winning ribbons, and loving it.

Her mother Cindy was once a promising steeplechase rider herself, but gave up it all up to raise her family. Coaching her children, she managed a succession of small horse farms, anything to keep her kids in the saddle.

"My mother has sacrificed a lot for all three of us kids," Napravnik said. "She taught me basically everything there is to know about riding a horse,

She's been on a fast track ever since. Last year, Napravnik became the first woman ever to win a jockey title at Delaware Park, and turned the same trick this year at Fairgrounds Race Track in New Orleans.

Trainer Andy Leggio never thought much of women jockeys, until he saw "The Natural" at work.

"When she's in a race, she knows where she's going, she picks a path and she takes it," Leggio said.

For Napravnik, her skill comes mostly from instinct.

"Having been around horses my whole life, (it) creates that natural communication with a horse. I can't describe what I'm doing - I just do it," Napravnik said.

Still, making it to Churchill Downs was such a long shot, Rosie's tomboy mother felt safe to make this challenge: get to the Derby and she'd ditch her denims for a proper dress and hat.

Weeks later, Napavnik was aboard "Pants on Fire" in the Louisiana Derby, where a win would guarantee a spot in the Derby. Just minutes after Napravnik's winning ride, mom's cell phone rang out.

"Mom, I think ya need to buy a hat, I think we're going to Kentucky," Napravnik said.

So while Mom now giddily shops for that promised hat, Rosie is shopping too. Mother's Day is the day after Derby Day and an historic victory would make a perfect present.

"My mom, she is just one of the proudest mothers that you could ever imagine," Napravnik said. "I am so excited she's coming to the Derby. It's almost as much her dream as it is mine."

  • Russ Mitchell

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