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

Rosie Napravnik: Not always. They gave me a pretty hard time.

Bob Simon: How did they give you a hard time?

Rosie Napravnik: They would try to intimidate me in the races, put me in a tight spot up against the rail or in between two horses. You know, it's something that I've had to go through more than once.

Go through and go down. Rosie's had five major spills. One of the worst was at Delaware Park, when her horse stumbled and fell and she tried to roll away from the horse behind her, but didn't make it.

Rosie Napravnik: What happened was I fell off the horse and I rolled right in front of another horse who ended up breaking my leg. So I've tried to learn from my experiences.

She's also broken her back, her collarbone, her left arm and she snapped her wrist in two. She has a metal rod in her leg and a plate in her arm.

Bob Simon: Did you ever think, "Well, maybe I should try something else?"

Rosie Napravnik: No. I've never thought that.

Bob Simon: You are insane. You do realize that?

Rosie Napravnik: Well, I'll tell you. 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.

Bob Simon: Oh come on, give me a break.

Rosie Napravnik: Well, it's a passion.

What else could it be, but a passion for speed and for winning. Rosie's got both. And they've taken her to where she is today. But the Kentucky Derby, like the Super Bowl, is a world of its own. Rosie has been there before. Two years ago, she finished ninth - the best a woman has ever done in this race.

Bob Simon: So it wouldn't be overstating it to say that this is a pretty big deal for Rosie?

Todd Pletcher: I would say it's a huge deal.

Todd Pletcher has been America's top-earning horse trainer for three years. Last year he put Rosie on his budding super star, Shanghai Bobby. Rosie and Bobby won five races in a row, and Bobby became the two-year-old champion of the year, an early favorite to win the Kentucky Derby along with his favorite jockey, Rosie.

Todd Pletcher: For any rider to get to that level is quite an accomplishment. But especially for a girl, in-- you know, in a profession that's largely male-dominated.

Yes, you heard him right. Horse racing may be the only profession in America where a mature 25-year-old woman is still called a girl. No glass ceiling here. More like concrete. Barbara Jo Rubin - B.J. for short -- was one of the first female jockeys. She started out 44 years ago.

Bob Simon: How bad was it when you started?

B.J.: A lot of trainers wouldn't let me even come under their shed row. You know it was bad luck.

Bob Simon: Did they say why?

B.J.: Yes it was bad luck and they wanted me outta there.

And they got her outta there. She ended up racing in the Bahamas because male jockeys in Florida threatened to shut down the track if she competed. The boycott collapsed eventually. But even when B.J. became the first woman to win a race in the states, the chauvinists kept on shouting.

B.J.: A lot of 'em would boo at me and tell me to go home, make babies, get outta there. It was not a woman's place to be on the racetrack.