In a time when riding racehorses was considered a sport for men only, Julie Krone blazed track and trails to become the most recognized female jockey in thoroughbred racing history. With 3,704 career wins and her subsequent induction into the National Racing Hall of Fame, Julie Krone broke barriers in the sport of horseracing that paved the way for some of the great female riders in the sport today.
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Krone was born in Michigan and became interested in horses early. In her youth she was an accomplish dressage rider in Michigan. It was Steve Cauthen, however, and his amazing Triple Crown run on Affirmed that inspired the young Krone to become a professional jockey. On January 30, 1981 Julie Krone made her professional racing debut on a horse named Tiny Star. It wasn’t long after on February 12, 1981 that Krone crossed the finish line on Lord Farkle to notch her first career win.
The recognition of Krone’s riding ability was almost immediate. Trainers at competitive circuits sought Krone for their horses and she soon garnered media attention for her willingness to compete against…and beat…the top male jockeys in the United States. Her upbeat personality made her a fan favorite and she made appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated while also appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman.
As the years passed Krone won riding titles at Belmont Park, Gulfstream Park, and Monmouth Park to name just a few. In 1993 Julie Krone became the first woman to capture a Triple Crown event by winning the Belmont Stakes on Colonial Affair.
Krone retired from the sport of horseracing in 1997 but returned after a few years to active competition as many jockeys do. It would prove to be a bittersweet year for Julie Krone. The early part of the year saw her suffer an injury that left her with two broken bones in her back. She returned after a four-month recovery to lead the jockey colony at Del Mar in purse earnings on the way to perhaps her greatest racing triumph. In the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Krone guided Halfbridled to a victory. The win made Julie Krone the first woman to win a Breeders’ Cup event.
A second comeback attempt in 2004 was aborted after another severe injury late in the previous year. While she never officially announced a retirement, Krone stated on July 8, 2004 that it was unlikely she would ever race again.
Krone spends time today with her husband Jay Hovdey, a columnist for the Daily Racing Form. She has also been involved in broadcasting racing events and teaching natural horsemanship. She has very rarely participated in “legends” racing events where she competes against some of the male riders she faced throughout her legendary career.
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