SBJ/February 4-10, 2013/Labor and Agents

Octagon joins team of female jockey

Octagon has formed an alliance with horse racing marketing firm Equisponse to represent record-breaking female jockey Rosie Napravnik for corporate endorsements and all other commercial endeavors.

It is thought to be the first time a major agency has represented a horse racing talent since the entertainment agency formerly known as William Morris represented legendary thoroughbred Secretariat in the 1970s.

Napravnik won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile aboard Shanghai Bobby in November.
Photo by: BREEDERS' CUP
Octagon managing director Peter Carlisle, best known as agent to Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, will represent Napravnik with Kelly Wietsma, president of Equisponse, as part of the agreement. Neither Carlisle nor Wietsma would disclose the financial arrangements of the alliance.

Napravnik, 24, has broken numerous records for female jockeys. Last year, she became the first woman to win the Kentucky Oaks, a prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies. Napravnik finished eighth in the North American jockey rankings in 2012, the best ranking ever for a female jockey, after winning 193 races and $12.5 million in purse earnings.

She has won the last two meets at her home track, Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Napravnik also won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race aboard Shanghai Bobby, one of the favorites for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

A female jockey has never won the Derby, the first leg of racing’s prestigious Triple Crown.

“She would make history, and it provides this potential opportunity to tell a story about the sport that goes way beyond horse racing,” Carlisle said.

Napravnik has been featured in horse racing coverage on NBC, which holds the rights to broadcast the Triple Crown races, and the CBS news program “60 Minutes” is producing a feature on her. She does not have any major endorsement deals.

Carlisle said that although Napravnik is not well-known to the general public, he sees a chance to build an athlete’s brand, especially during the Triple Crown season. “The best analogy is we are going into the Olympics,” he said. “Rosie is a unique story, and it has unique potential.”

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