Rosie's Run for the Roses

As she prepares to ride in the Kentucky Derby, Rosie Napravnik talks about being one of America's most successful jockeys -- and one of the only women in the sport

The following is a script from "Rosie's Run for the Roses" which aired on April 28, 2013. Bob Simon is the correspondent. Tom Anderson and Michelle St. John, producer.

The hottest jockey in America may end up winning more races this year than anyone else and has ridden horses that have earned more than $48 million in purse money. What distinguishes this jockey from champions of yesteryear is that she's a woman and there are not many of that gender in this game.

Rosie Napravnik is 25 years old, was born in New Jersey, lives in New Orleans and next Saturday is a contender to win the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Rosie will be running for the roses. No woman has ever come close to winning there before. But Rosie Napravnik has been surprising the bookies since she began racing.

When she breaks from the gate, jostled by other jockeys, Rosie gives as good as she gets in a sport that's long been dominated by men. It's close to a contact sport. Rosie is 5-foot-2 and weighs in at little more than 110 pounds. Imagine the strength it takes to dominate that thousand pound beast - cruising at more than 40 miles an hour. Just watch the rhythm as that yellow helmet moves. It takes focus, a fine touch and an absolute absence of fear -- something Rosie Napravnik has never known.

Rosie Napravnik: I don't ever really remember a time when I got really nervous.

Bob Simon: Not even when you're on a horse that's going so fast?

Rosie Napravnik: No. That's when I'm most comfortable.

Bob Simon: Most like yourself?

Rosie Napravnik: Absolutely.

Rosie's statistics are stunning. She's won more than 1,500 races since she started competing at the age of 17. This year, she's finished first, second, or third nearly 60 percent of the time. Her sister Jazz, who trains horses, says it's all about style.

Jazz Napravnik: There's a special something she has that gets those horses to put in a little extra effort. And she has a special connection that no one can really put words to.

Bob Simon: Do you think that a woman can have more finesse with a horse than a man can?

Jazz Napravnik: Absolutely. I think if strength is what men have to their advantage, I think women would have finesse.

Rosie Napravnik: Horses can feel your nerves, horses can feel excitement, they can feel you relax, which will help them relax.

Relax...but go for it. Rosie says her biggest success was at last year's Kentucky Oaks, which is the Kentucky Derby for fillies.

She was the only woman in the race. The odds against her were 13 to one. So, when she crossed the finish line almost a length ahead of number two, her friends and fans had not only made a buck. They had stuck it to the skeptics. And to make the occasion even more joyous, her horse was named Believe You Can.

Rosie Napravnik: The moment when I knew I had the race won was like, you know, it was just that fulfilling satisfaction feeling, you know, the greatest moment of my career.

But it wasn't an easy ride getting there. Horse racing had been stamped "Men Only" for more than a century.

Bob Simon: When you started out, did the jockeys-- male jockeys say, "How great. Welcome to the club?"