This upcoming Saturday, marks the 138th running of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Over the past three years, this has been the race that concerned trainers when making their bid for the Triple Crown. The distance is cut back from the Derby distance of a mile and a quarter, to a mile and three sixteenths. In 2011, this race stopped ANIMAL KINGDOM’S bid and in 2012 it was the one race which concerned Doug O’ Neill, conditioner of I”LL HAVE ANOTHER. You will constantly hear trainers saying “I just hope my horse does not run out of real estate”. This year is no different, Kentucky Derby winner, ORB, will try to write his name in history books and become a winner of the second jewel of the Triple Crown so he can attempt to be our first Triple Crown winner in 35 years.
A horse with an Ocala connection could be the “dark horse” in the race. Gold Mark and Whisper Hill Farm’s, MY LUTE, looks prime for the picking in this race. MY LUTE will be piloted by female jockey sensation, Rosie Napravnik who looks to make history herself in being the first woman to win the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes.
MY LUTE was a yearling purchased by long-time Ocala horseman Todd Quast for his boss Paul Buhlman, owner of Gold Mark Farm. Mr. Buhlman is a tremendous supporter of the thoroughbred industry. In 2002 at a businessman’s lunch, Buhlman’s life was forever changed when he was bitten by the racing bug and with the help of his engineer brother designed the immaculate Gold Mark Farm. Since 2010, Buhlman has been competing at the top levels when his horse, BACKTALK, took him to the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, BACKTALK had distance limitations and finished a disappointing 20th in the 2010 edition of the Derby. That did not diminish his owner’s drive to have horses running against the best.
In his first start for Gold Mark and Whisper Hill he finished a fast closing second to REVOLUTIONARY in the Louisiana Derby. Shaun Bridgmohan had the call in the Louisiana Derby, but things changed after current female phenomenon, Rosie Napravnik, lost her Derby mount.
Through 2012, Rosie, was the rider for Champion Two-Year-Old and early Derby favorite, SHANGHAI BOBBY. However, after his disappointing run in the Florida Derby it was revealed that “Bobby” had suffered a hairline pelvic fracture that would keep him off the track for at least 90 days. Suddenly, a rider who was at the top of her game needed a mount. The MY LUTE team had ridden Rosie on their horse in December and he had come home a winner; therefore, it seemed only fitting to retain her for the Kentucky Derby and as luck would have it the pair would continue into the Preakness.
There have been many strong female jockey’s over the years, but Rosie Napravnik has become a fan favorite and a historical figure. In 2012, Rosie became the first female jockey to ever win the Kentucky Oaks when she piloted Brereton Jones’, BELIEVE YOU CAN, to victory. A mere six months later, she became only the second woman in history to ride a Breeder’s Cup winner when she rode SHANGHAI BOBBY in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile. Seemingly, overnight, Rosie Napravnik’s was a name that everyone knew and everyone wanted her to ride for them. Saturday is a homecoming for Napravnik when she rides MY LUTE in the 138th running of the Preakness.
Napravnik launched her successful career in 2005 when she won on her first mount ever, Ringofdiamonds, just days after completing her junior year of high school. Just a year later, she swept the rider standings at all four meets that were contested at Pimlico Race Course. On Saturday when she goes post ward she will have “home field” advantage. She informed fans that “It’s always an advantage if you know the track well. I won a lot of races at Pimlico and I like the track. I know the track like the back of my hand, and I appreciate that fact”. She and MY LUTE are once again trying to make history, with her being the first woman to ever win the Preakness Stakes. This pair is a fan favorite due to the ownership connections and the humble jockey. “Whether we can win the race or not, it’s still to be seen. It’s going to be a tough race and ORB is definitely going to be tough to beat” she said. “Either way, I’d have to say it will be one of my proudest moments”.
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