Krone, Julieanne Louise ("Julie")

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KRONE, Julieanne Louise ("Julie")

(b. 24 July 1963 in Benton Harbor, Michigan), jockey best known as the first woman to win a Triple Crown race and the first woman to be inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

Krone is the second child and only daughter of Judi Krone, a prizewinning show rider and breeder of horses, and Don Krone, an art teacher at Benton Harbor High School, who moonlighted as an instructor of art and photography at Lake Michigan College. Krone grew up on a farm near Eau Claire, Michigan, and began riding horses at the age of two. At age five she won the Berrien County Youth Fair horse show in the twenty-one-and-under division. By the time Krone was fifteen, her parents had separated. She almost joined a circus, after she impressed the owner with her ability to perform with horses, but decided to become a jockey instead.

In 1979 Krone obtained a job at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, as a groom and exercise rider; she had not yet reached the legal working age of sixteen, but her mother, who had driven with her from Michigan, changed the month on her birth certificate from July to April. She lived with a trainer, Clarence Picou, and his wife, Donna. Krone dropped out of high school in her senior year and flew to Tampa, Florida, to live with her grandparents and race at the Tampa Bay Downs.

As a result of Krone's short stature (she was four feet, eight-and-a-half inches tall at the time), she was initially mistaken for a lost child by the wife of a trainer. Five weeks later, on 12 February 1981, Krone demonstrated her expertise as a rider and was in the winner's circle at the Tampa Bay Downs with a gelding named Lord Farckle. On 25 August 1981, for her first time, Krone won three races in the same day.

Also that year, Krone's brother moved to Maryland, and her mother, no longer on speaking terms with her, moved to Florida. Krone's ties with her past had been broken: the family farm and Krone's favorite horse, Ralph, had been sold, and her best friend from childhood had been killed in a motorcycle accident.

Soon after, Krone was given a sixty-day suspension from the track after police found marijuana in her car, and she had to attend a drug rehabilitation class. Her riding ability did not suffer from her lack of practice, however. On her first day back in competition, Krone won both of her assigned races. In 1982, at nineteen, she won the riding title at the Atlantic City, New Jersey, track, as the jockey with the most wins at that track that year. Unfortunately, after falling off a horse during a workout at Laurel Park in Maryland, Krone broke her back and was off the tracks for four months.

Five years after winning her first riding title at the Atlantic City track, Krone was the leading winner in 1987 at both Monmouth and the Meadowlands, in New Jersey. The next year Krone led in jockey standings for much of the winter meet at the Aqueduct in New York before finishing second. By 1989 she was the nation's third leading rider with 368 wins.

Krone became a fixture on the New York circuit in 1991, which was her most successful year in terms of earnings. During the 1992–1993 season she became the number-one jockey at Florida's Gulfstream Park. On 5 June 1993 Krone once again made history as the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, a feat she achieved at the Belmont Stakes; she was aboard the thirteen-to-one long shot Colonial Affair. On 20 August 1993 she became the third jockey in history to win five races in one day at Saratoga.

Her happiness was short-lived, however, because ten days later she suffered serious injuries after being kicked in the chest by a horse, resulting in a cardiac contusion, a fractured right ankle, and a wounded elbow. Krone married Matt Muzikar in 1995 and continued riding, only to become injured once again on 13 January 1996 when she broke both of her hands.

After this injury Krone suffered from depression and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She began seeing a psychiatrist for help in the healing process of both mind and body. As a result of her experience as an athlete suffering from a psychological disorder, Krone became a spokesperson for the Pfizer and Women's Sports Foundation––Minds in Motion Depression Awareness Campaign. She also became involved with the American Psychiatric Association's Annual Meeting in 2000, sponsored by the International Society of Sport Psychiatry.

On 23 March 1998 Krone was one of three athletes honored at the Nassau County Sports Commission Awards Dinner in New York. She was also a guest at the Franciscan Games Dinner on 19 September 1998. The following year was a difficult one for Krone: her mother died after battling cancer, she divorced her husband and moved to California, and she announced her retirement at the Aqueduct racetrack.

Since then Krone has served as a racing analyst for TVG in Los Angeles and is currently taking psychology courses to become a therapist. In 2000 she became the first female jockey inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, and in 2001 she became Gulfstream Park's official spokesperson. She married Jay Hovdey, a columnist for The Daily Racing Forum, on 27 May 2001.

Krone's enthusiasm and tenacity have served her well in the fast-paced world of horse racing. Her win at Belmont in 1993 is described as "the most significant victory in the history of sport by a female athlete against male competition." Her place in history is assured with a total of more than 3,500 winning races and earnings exceeding $81 million. She has overcome great odds and emerged victorious in a sport formerly dominated by men.

For information about Krone, see Julie Krone with Nancy Richardson, Riding for My Life (1995). A biographical sketch is in Christina Lessa, Women Who Win: Stories of Triumph in Sport and in Life (1998). An article pertaining to Krone's depression is Robert Lipsyte, "Backtalk: Julie Krone's Race Against Depression," New York Times (21 May 2000).

Adriana C. Tomasino