How Julie Krone Paved The Way For Women Jockeys?

Julie Krone: Paved the Way for Women Jockeys with Belmont Win | CIO Women Magazine

Horse racing is one of the most inclusive sports in this modern era, with male and female riders able to compete against one another at the highest level. However, female stars have been forced to work harder than most to make their breakthrough within the sport, with many trainers and owners typically showing signs of resistance when it came to the female stars looking to make a name for themselves in the saddle.  

But, fortunately for women, there have been no shortage of stars that have broke new ground when it came to smashing down barriers at the highest level, including Julie Krone. If you are currently thinking on betting the Belmont Stakes, you must be familiar with her name. 

Such is the success that she achieved during her career, resisting owners had no other choice but to embrace women within the sport.  

Early History of Women in Horse Racing 

While horse racing is now a sport where women can compete freely at the highest level, this wasn’t always the case. Such was the controversy that centered around the debate that there were massive crowds trying to stop the first female rider in pari-mutuel betting from making her way onto the course in 1969.  

Julie Krone: Paved the Way for Women Jockeys with Belmont Win | CIO Women Magazine

However, Diana Crump was still able to make it to the track to compete, and this was the first time that a rider had competed professionally in a betting race in history. The support from that first ride made international headlines, and she would later make further history when becoming the first female to take a ride in the Kentucky Derby.  

Without the huge influence of Crump within the sport, it’s unlikely that Julie Krone would have been able to push through to the top of the sport.  

Krone’s Early Life 

Krone was born in July 1963 in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She immediately had a fascinating with horses and would spend her free time during childhood competing in show jumping events across western Michigan. However, she would become inspired by the career of Steve Cauthen, and that would signal a slight chance in her future plans in order to pursue a career within horse racing. 

Julie Krone: Paved the Way for Women Jockeys with Belmont Win | CIO Women Magazine

Her first ride would come in January 1981 at Tampa Bay Downs, landing a famous victory aboard Lord Farkle just two weeks later at the same track. Such was her immediate success on track that she began to win championships at some of the biggest tracks across the U.S., including at Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Gulfstream Park. 

Celebrity Spotlight 

Krone’s star within the sport was rising throughout the 1980s, which saw her make international headlines with appearances on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as well as being guests on The Last Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, she is one of just eight jockeys to have gained that recognition. T 

However, the 90s would see Julie Krone catapulted into a new hemisphere after landing success in the Belmont Stakes when aboard Colonial Affair.  

The success saw her become the first, and only, female jockey to land a victory in a Triple Crown race. The success would also see her honoured at the ESPY Awards after being named the Female Athlete of the Year. 

Retirement 

Krone announced in April 1999 that she would be retiring from the sport after winning three races at Lone Star Park. Following her decision to walk away from the sport, she was offered the chance to work for TVG as first a broadcaster, before then becoming a paddock analyst. However, the sport would suck her back in at Santa Anita in November 2002. Julie Krone made a solid start to the 2003 season, before injury curtailed her plans.  

Julie Krone: Paved the Way for Women Jockeys with Belmont Win | CIO Women Magazine

After four months, she returned to action to lead the Del Mar standings for the 2003 season. She would later make more history at Santa Anita in the same year when aboard Halfbridled in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, becoming the first woman to win a Breeders’ Cup race. Another injury setback saw Krone reassess her options, before she formally announced her retirement in July 2004. 

Legacy 

Julie Krone’s influence within the sport is clear for all to see, as she is still revered to be one of the most important female riders in racing history. She also showed throughout her career how tough women can be, which also saw her ranked within the top ten of Toughest Athletes by USA Today. Krone’s achievements were later acknowledged after being inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and National Women’s Hall of Fame.  

The racing community would also have chance to appreciate her commitment to the sport in 2018, as a bronze statue was given to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. She has made fleeting returns to the saddle following her retirement, including when winning aboard Invincible Hero in the Leger Legends at Doncaster in September 2011.  

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