LOUISVILLE, Ky. - They've been running the Kentucky Oaks, the most prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies, as long as they have run the Kentucky Derby, so history was made Friday in the race's 138th edition at Churchill Downs as Rosie Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Oaks.
Believe You Can, a 13-1 shot, won for Delaware Park-based trainer Larry Jones, defeating Broadway's Alibi by three-quarters of a length. Parx-based Grace Hall continued her streak of always hitting the board, finishing third for trainer Tony Dutrow, 21/2 lengths back. Believe You Can paid $29.80 after running 11/8 miles in 1 minute, 49.50 seconds.
"I can't even tell you what I'm feeling like right now," said Napravnik, who lost her Derby ride earlier in the week when Jones pulled Mark Valeski out of Saturday's race. The Oaks was Napravnik's first Grade I victory.
"This is what it feels like when your dreams are coming true," she said. " . . . I cried a little, but I don't think I'm done crying yet."
It was the second Kentucky Oaks triumph for Jones, a Kentucky native who has come in second twice in the Kentucky Derby, with Hard Spun and Eight Belles, and won the Oaks with Proud Spell, which like Believe You Can was owned by former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones.
"She is the coolest customer I've ever seen ride a horse," Brereton Jones said of Napravnik. "She never ever gets rattled."
Jockey suspended. Jockey Robby Albarado has been suspended from racing after his arrest on a charge of accosting a woman who says she was breaking up with him.
The Courier-Journal reported that Albarado was suspended indefinitely Friday by Churchill Downs stewards and will have to go before the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's license review committee before he can ride again.
The action means the loss of Albarado's Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day mounts at Churchill. A Churchill spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
The arrest warrant says Albarado was accused of throwing the woman to the floor of a residence Tuesday. The report said the woman, who had lived with Albarado, suffered a separated shoulder and bruises to her legs, an arm, and shoulder.
Back in the saddle. Jockey Javier Castellano left on a stretcher after a spill Friday in a race just before he was scheduled to ride Grace Hall in the Kentucky Oaks, then returned in time to mount the race favorite.
Castellano, who appeared to have an abrasion on his cheek, left the ambulance and walked unaided into the jockey's room after the spill in the 10th race, the American Turf.
Castellano was riding Star Channel, who pulled up clean in the aftermath of Castellano's fall. He got up before being put on a stretcher and appeared to smile as he was loaded into an ambulance.
Castellano also is scheduled to ride Gemologist on Saturday in the Kentucky Derby.