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Andrea's column: Run for the roses

Last week, when I called my son to ask where and how I could (legally) place a bet on the Kentucky Derby, he said he might meet a friend at the track in Shakopee on race day and, if he did, he would gladly place my wager.

I know, I know. You're going to remind me of the pact my husband and I made to never gamble again. Not because we had a problem and couldn't stop but after six or seven trips to the casino where we lost $50 dollars, or more, we decided to decline any further invitations from family and friends to "try our luck" and just write out a check to the food shelf instead.

Other than a lottery ticket here and there, we've stuck to our pledge. Until a couple Sundays ago, that is, when we watched a "60 Minutes" segment on jockey Rosie Napravnik. We learned if the 25-year-old New Jersey native were to win the race, she would be the first woman to do so.

During the interview, "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon and Rosie talked about Barbara Jo Rubin, a female jockey who, decades ago, was considered bad luck by trainers because of her gender. Forced out of racing in this country, Rubin retreated to the Bahamas. She became the first woman to ever win a race but even after that, had to put up with harassment and jeers.

Rosie told Simon that kind of treatment is still directed at female jockeys. In fact, she said some trainers and owners won't work with women. "The only way that I deal with that," she said, "is to try to beat that person in a race."

Emotional jabs aren't the only damages Rosie has had to endure. She has fallen five times with one fall resulting in a broken leg after she was trampled by another horse. She has broken her arm, back and collarbone, too. Still, she told interviewer Simon she doesn't get nervous and is "most comfortable" atop a horse.

Rosie's story resonated with me. I never took a fall on the job but, as the first woman car salesperson in the Twin Cities, the treatment I endured from my male counterparts and even some managers, left me heart-broken on many occasions. As with Rosie, I was motivated to try even harder to "beat them" every month.

That's why I had to bet on Rosie on derby weekend. My husband understood. So did my son. When he called the morning of the race, we talked about how to make the best use of my money. He suggested placing $20 dollars apiece on win, place and show.

I settled in front of the television an hour and a half before the race to watch the people and the horses and hear the latest updates and human interest stories. When I learned the odds on my team, I began fantasizing about how I would spend my winnings. My husband came home with a pizza and sat down with me.

"When she wins," I said, "we should put the money into a new vanity top for the bathroom." He agreed. Well, good, that was settled. Quartz, I thought. That coppery brown color with tan and a bit of the green that's on the walls.

"They're off," my husband said, moving forward in his seat. I couldn't tell one horse from another or which jockey was which in the muddy blur. I heard Rosie's horse, Mylute, mentioned once and then, it was over.

We didn't win, place or show. The bathroom renovation will have to wait. It was worth it, though. Especially, when my son called to say Rosie might be racing in the Preakness next weekend. Whoa, my husband should probably hide the checkbook, don't you think?