You’d probably never heard of Rosie Napravnik before yesterday. And if you were among those evacuated from the Infield because of a storm that delayed the Kentucky Oaks for a half-hour, you might have missed the historic performance, as the first female jockey ever to win the race guided Believe You Can to victory.
Those who believed got a nice payoff – $29.60 on a $2 bet. My money was with On Fire Baby, who never challenged. But I came out even on the day, thanks to a longshot named Firehouse Red who finished second in an earlier race. It was a big win for former Governor Brereton Jones and veteran trainer Larry Jones.
The atmosphere at the track changed dramatically as the storm rolled in. In the press box, WAVE’s Kevin Harned and Brian Goode became the focal points as track officials gathered around to talk about the weather. As it was, the storm dumped some rain, but it was apparently not nearly as bad as it could have been. Nonetheless, track officials ordered the Infield evacuated and told everyone to take cover, a message largely ignored down in the Paddock. Those with indoor seating on the upper floors didn’t seem to notice.
I couldn’t remember, nor could anyone I spoke with, the track shutting down and evacuating, but I knew the Churchill Downs execs had put such a plan in place.
The weather delay may have eased the post-Oaks traffic, which was pretty light.
And here’s the good news — this morning’s message from Churchill Downs: “the main track was labeled “Sloppy” and the Matt Winn Turf Course was labeled “Good.” With a promising weather forecast for the day, those track conditions are likely to change. The National Weather Service forecast for Louisville calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high near 85 and a 50% chance of popup precipitation (between a tenth and quarter of an inch). There’ll be a west wind between 3-5 mph. ”
Sounds like a good day for the big race. Remember where you heard this — put all your money on Alpha!
I’ll have plenty of photos from the Oaks here on LouisvilleKY.com soon.