Krone, Julie (1963—)

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Krone, Julie (1963—)

American jockey who was the first woman to win the Triple Crown. Born Julieann Louise Krone in Benton Harbor, Michigan, on July 24, 1963; daughter of Judi Krone and Don Krone; married Matthew Muzikar (a television sports producer), on August 26, 1995.

Winningest female jockey, and one of the top jockeys—male or female—of all time; had $81 million in purse earnings and more than 3,500 wins.

Julie Krone was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan, in 1963, the daughter of Don and Judi Krone , an accomplished equestrian. Thus, it was not surprising that Julie learned to ride before she learned to walk. When Judi put her two-year-old daughter on a horse which promptly trotted off, she watched in amazement as the little girl picked up the reins and guided the horse back to her. It was the start of a life on horseback. As she grew, Krone began racing and jumping horses around the family farm in Eau Claire, Michigan (pop. 494). By age five, she began to win ribbons in horse shows.

More than anything, however, Krone loved to race. When she was 15, she wangled a job as a workout rider at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. On her return to Michigan, she began racing at local fairground tracks. Determined to become a winning jockey, Krone later left high school and went to live with her grandparents in Florida so that she could concentrate on racing.

Five weeks after Julie Krone arrived in Tampa, she won her first race on Lord Farkle at Tampa Bay Downs on February 12, 1981. In 48 races at Tampa, Krone won nine, finished second four times, and third ten times. She attracted the attention of Chick Lang, an agent who took her to race at Pimlico in Baltimore, home of the Preakness Stakes. Despite his endorsement, it was not easy for Krone to get jobs as a jockey. Racing had been closed to female jockeys until 1968, and Julie traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard in search of work. Her perseverance paid off; by 1982, she had won 155 races and more than $1 million in prize money, of which she kept 10%. Young and sometimes immature, Krone was suspended for 60 days for possession of marijuana. "It was pure torture," she commented. "I hadn't been off a horse for that long in 17 years. But I'm glad it happened. It gave me a chance to think about the talent I had been given. I almost threw it away." Settling down, she won the riding title in Atlantic City in 1982 and again in 1983. At the end of 1983, however, she fell off her mount during a race and broke her back. Four months were devoted to rehabilitation.

Krone continued to be a phenomenon on the racetrack. She competed at Garden State Park, the Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park in New Jersey and won 199 races, earning more than $2.3 million in prize money. In 1987, Julie Krone rode six winners in one day at Monmouth Park which equaled a previous record. At this point, she could no longer be ignored and was asked to race at Aqueduct in Queens, New York. On opening day, she won four races. In 1987, Krone was considered the sixth best jockey in the country, with 324 total wins. She won her 1,205th race on March 6, 1988, beating the record held by Patricia Cooksey . Krone was now the winningest woman jockey in history. Later that year, she defeated Willie Shoemaker, considered America's best jockey, in a match race. Krone was the first woman to participate in the annual Breeders' Cup races at Churchill Downs.

In 1988, she was the fourth leading rider in the U.S. and in 1989, she won more titles. At the end of 1989, a major spill at the Meadowlands left her with a shattered left arm, causing her to drop out for eight months, but as soon as she healed, Julie Krone was out of the starting gate. She was the first woman to ride in the Belmont Stakes on June 8, 1991. In June 1993, she won the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair, becoming the first woman to win the Triple Crown. That August, she became the third jockey to win five races in a day at the Saratoga Race Course. Angel Cordero, Jr., and Ron Turcotte were the others. Ten days later at Saratoga, she went down in a spill, severely shattered her ankle, and suffered a cardiac contusion, but two plates and 14 screws later she returned to racing in May 1994.

Krone was injured once more at Gulfstream Park on January 13, 1995. Thrown from her horse, she broke both her hands and had a harder time regrouping; this time, she needed the help of a psychiatrist to "repair the damage." "While no other rider ever intimidated her, Krone admitted she had begun to lose some of her tenacity—some of her nerve," wrote Sports Illustrated. "When she returned to the race track again, she was more tentative than she'd ever been." In November 1999, Krone broke her right knee at the Meadowlands in a race that she won. She added two more winners that day before the fracture was diagnosed. After an 18-year career, Krone retired on April 8, 1999. That day, she had five races at Lone Star Park and had three wins, one second-place finish, and a third. "I'm on top, I'm 35 years old, and I don't want to do this anymore," she said. "I'd go to sleep at

night, and my ankle hurt and my knee hurt and I'd think, 'I just want to get this over with.'"

With 3,546 wins out of 29,475 races, including 276 stakes, and over $81 million in purse earnings for a 16th place ranking in all-time earnings, Julie Krone put to rest any notions that women could not compete on the racetrack. In 2000, she became the first woman elected to racing's Hall of Fame.


Callahan, Dorothy M. Julie Krone: A Winning Jockey. Minneapolis, MN: Dillon Press, 1990.

"Down the Bridal Path," in People Weekly. September 11, 1995.

"Going Out a Winner," CNN-Sports Illustrated ( April 28, 1999.

"Julie Krone Rides Headlong into Racing's Record Books as the Winningest Woman Jockey," in People Weekly. May 2, 1988, pp. 111–114.

Virshup, Amy. "Reining Queen," in New York. Vol. 21, no. 24. June 13, 1988, pp. 46–50.

Woolum, Janet. Outstanding Women Athletes: Who They Are and How They Influenced Sports in America. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1992.

Karin L. Haag , freelance writer, Athens, Georgia