Anne Napravnik has been doing pretty good down in Maryland so I got her on the phone and here is what she said:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
AN: I was born in my grandmother's house in New Jersey.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you a tomboy like most other female riders?
AN: Oh yeah I didn't wear a shirt till I was 10 years old. (laughs)
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
AN: I have a 19 year old brother and a 23 year old sister.
FOTH: What do they and your parents think about you being a jockey?
AN: Everyone is real supportive and my parents let me move out of my house when I was 16 to come down to Maryland to do this. My sister, I kinda followed her footsteps, she started galloping for Bruce Miller and then she rode a little bit on the steeplechase circuit and now she is a trainer. I actually ended up in Maryland because she was here. My brother does not have much to do with horses or horse racing at all he really is cool about it. He follows it a lit tle bit on satellite TV when he is at a friends house and he will ask me when I am riding. Sometimes he will come to Delaware Park to watch me ride too. Even my friends who know nothing about horse racing think it is cool that I am doing something I really want to do.
FOTH: Did you ever go to many tracks at all before you became a rider?
AN: I think I was at Monmouth Park once when I was really younger. I went there to just meet somebody there, there was a trainer I was pony racing with her daughter and I ended up meeting them up at Monmouth Park. That was pretty much my only race track experience.
FOTH: When did you know you wanted to become a jockey?
AN: When I was about 6 1/2 or 7.
FOTH: What inspired you to want to become a rider?
AN: Well my sister when she was 5 rode her 1st pony race for Pony Club and I always wanted to do it and I am 6 years younger than her, but I always wanted to do it and once I did it I said I want to be a jockey. I grew up doing eventing and all that and I pretty much did every kind of riding you can do and I never said I want to be an event rider or a show jumping rider, but I as soon as I raced I knew I wanted to be a jockey.
FOTH: Did you have anybody teach you had to ride or did you do a lot of it on your own?
AN: My mom managed a study horse boarding facility so I had ponies my whole life, I inherited my sister's pony and so I got a really good foundation just eventing and when started doing pony racing competitively, I do know where they got all their racing information, but my mom and my sister pretty much taught me everything I know, especially my sister for the riding aspect and my mom for the training part.
FOTH: Tell us a little bit about your 1st race.
AN: My 1st race I rode 'Ring of Diamonds" for Richard Small, who I had been galloping for a year before that and that was my 1st job on the track, that was for Mr. Small. The race was a mile and 1/16th and I won.
FOTH: Did you win by a lot or was it a photo finish?
AN: I won by about 2 or 3 lengths.
FOTH: Were you surprised as anyone that you one and was he a favorite or a long shot?
AN: He was the stone cold favorite and never really thought about winning the race, I was actually just excited that I was gonna start riding and the jockey that had been riding the horse before came up to me before the race and told me that if I made the lead I'd win easy. I hadn't been planning to be on the lead, enough though I knew I wanted to be near the front and as soon as he said it, I changed my plan and followed his plan and it worked out. (laughs)
FOTH: What was it like jogging the horse back to the winner's circle?
AN: I couldn't believe that I won and I was really happy because it is hard to make it as a female and that it was a good start. I was in the winner's circle and I didn't know what to think and everyone was coming up and talking to me and everyone was asking me how it felt and I was like it was fun and it amazing that I won my 1st race ever and it was great for Mr. Small cause he is one of my main supporters and really helped me along.
FOTH: What track was this at?
AN: It was at Pimlicio.
FOTH: What tracks have you rode at so far?
AN: Colonial, Laurel, and Delaware Park.
FOTH: Did you like the turf racing at Colonial?
AN: yeah, I pretty much liked it.
FOTH: Do you feel your improving with each race you ride?
AN: Oh yeah. I mean everyone says that to me all the time. I know when I make my mistakes and that next time I'll do better. I learn new things and I am working on things all the time and I am doing really well and I am just trying to do better.
FOTH: Are you pretty much planning on sticking to race riding in Maryland?
AN: For now I am gonna stick with Maryland. I am doing really well and there is no reason to go anywhere else. I am in the top 5 right now and I never expected that so I am gonna stay here until I have a reason to leave.
FOTH: Do you have any goals for yourself?
AN: Short term goal would be to be a top 5 rider in Maryland, which is gonna get a lot tougher when Delaware closes. I want to make this meet and sets me up for the next meet, which who knows where it will be with all the stuff that is going on down here with Maryland Racing.
FOTH: Do you feel you have been given a pretty fair shake being a female rider?
AN: I think I have been given some really good opportunities and I have taken advantage of them and I work really hard regardless. I never give myself any breaks I am working 7 days a week. I feel I have to work as hard as I can so that I make, but not as a female, but I want to make it as a top jock.
FOTH: Takes us through what you in a typical day.
AN: Right now I am living pretty far from Laurel so I get up around 4:00 am and I get to Laurel around 6:00 am and I'll work as many 10 horses a day or sometimes only 3 and then I don't have to go home so I go right to the room and I do have to reduce a little bit, which nobody really realizes that i do cause I loom small, but I am not as small as I look. (laughs) I have been riding 8 or 9 horses in the afternoon and then I drive an hour in traffic and go to sleep.
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
AN: Drink coffee so you stay small. (laughs) It is weird to be giving advice already instead of taking it, but I would say just work as hard as possible and watch the other riders and have the best work ethic and pick a style you like and combine styles, work on what you want to do and how comfortable you are riding. Try to get the connections you need. One of the biggest reasons I am doing so well is because I have the right people behind me. I am not exactly sure how it happened, but it did. (laughs)
FOTH: Any fear of injury? AN; It doesn't really scare. My biggest scare was having my friend fall down in front of me and having to jump over him. That was scary, but it didn't scare my enough to effect my riding or anything like that. I am trying to get an apartment and trying to this and that and everyone is saying for me to get my insurance and what if I get hurt and you don't want to move cause if you get hurt you won't be making any money. I am not going to put my life on hold in case I get hurt. If it happens, it happens, and I am sure it will one day cause it happens to everybody and I'm not afraid of that.
FOTH: DO you think a female jockey will ever win one of the Triple Crown races again?
AN: Sure, I will. FOTH; How long would you like to ride for?
AN: At least 15 years.
FOTH: Is there any track you would like to ride at one day?
AN: I would love to ride at Belmont or Santa Anita, Delmar or Gulfstream would be nice.
FOTH: Any female riders helping you out with advice and stuff?
AN: Kaymarie Kriedel is great to be in the room with. She doesn't ride every day, she helps me out whenever she can. I would love to have as much success as Julie Krone.
FOTH: Anne, I am out of questions. Anything you want to say to wrap this up? AN; No, that's pretty much it.