Saratoga Rosie Napravnik has taken a liking to Saratoga, and the feeling is mutual.
The 24-year-old New Jersey native is one of this summer's most popular jockeys at Saratoga Race Course. Young fans line wait for her behind the grandstand and in front of the jockeys club so they can get an autograph or a picture.
Napravnik is also popular with some of Saratoga's top trainers. On any given day, she can be seen riding for such luminaries of the sport as Nick Zito and William Mott, as well as with some lesser-known trainers.
"I think she's terrific," said Zito. "She's got great hands (on the reins), and I think she's going to be very good for New York racing in general."
Napravnik began her first full summer season at Saratoga in style. She won the first race of the meet aboard long-shot Nine O Wonderful July 20, and she added a victory aboard Kauai Katie in the fifth race.
"Winning the first race of the meet was great," said Napravnik. "One of the things I looked forward to was running the two-turn grass course because that's my specialty. It just made me feel confident out there."
Napravnik's season hit a snag when she broke a toe in a gate incident July 25. Her horse, Magical Season, bumped the gate as it left, slamming Napravnik's left foot into the iron in the process.
Napravnik didn't allow the incident to slow her down, though. She accumulated four more victories over a nine-day span.
"The toe was very painful the first two days after it happened, but I don't notice it anymore," said Napravnik. "The only time I notice it is when I have high heels on."
Napravnik has gotten some mileage out of her high heels this summer, too. She's participated in several jockey events away from the track as she becomes accustomed to the social life that revolves around the Saratoga racing season.