A panel of Louisiana judges has vindicated a groundbreaking, retired female jockey, restoring her 2014 first-place finish in a Louisiana Downs stakes race.
Rosie Napravnik and Coalport crossed the finish line first in the 2014 Unbridled Stakes, one of 13 races on Super Derby Day that year. But track officials disqualified Coalport, saying the horse drifted into the path of second-place finisher Benwill. They gave Benwill the win.
Later that day, Napravnik would guide Kentucky Derby contender Vicar’s in Trouble to a Super Derby win and help the Louisiana-bred thoroughbred cross the $1 million mark for earnings.
The Super Derby eased the sting of the earlier race.
“I’m still not happy with the results (of the Unbridled Stakes) but Vicar’s In Trouble did well today. I’m happy with that,” Napravnik said during an interview after the 2014 Super Derby.
Coalport’s owners weren’t happy, either, and they challenged the track’s decision, taking their case to the Louisiana Racing Commission.
The commissioner stood by the racing stewards, so Coalport’s owners sued.
A Bossier District Court judge has reversed the Racing Commission ruling and gave the win back to Coalport.
The Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal on Wednesday upheld that decision, giving Coalport not just the first-place finish but potentially $30,000 more in winnings for the race. A first-place finish carried a $45,000 share of the $75,000 total purse and a second-place finish $15,000.
“The Court is called upon to determine the outcome of a horse race,” Judge Jay McCallum said in the opinion.
He and two others – Judge Jeannette Garrett and Chief Judge Henry Brown Jr. – reviewed testimony, including a deposition from Napravnik, and watched a video of the race before ruling in the case.
They agreed Coalport fouled Benwill but said Coalport was simply the faster horse that day.
“Benwill was gaining on Coalport at the end of the race, but not at a fast enough rate to overtake him before the finish line, even had the foul not occurred,” McCallum wrote.
Coalport ran in the Unbridled Stakes again in 2016 – a different jockey aboard this time – and finished in second place. His last race was the Tropical Turf Handicap that November, another second-place finish. He ended his 29-start career with $621,000 in earnings.
Barely two months after her 2014 Super Derby day rides, Napravnik, made history as the first female jockey to win the Breeders’ Cup Distaff – then shocked the racing world by announcing she was retiring to have a baby. She was the height of her career, having ridden three Triple Crown contenders in the same year, another first for a female jockey.
Now Napravnik helps her husband, Joe Sharp, train thoroughbreds, dividing her time between Fairground Racetrack in New Orleans and Louisville, Kentucky.
There’s no word on whether the Racing Commission will appeal the appeals court ruling.