On this day in 1993, Julie Krone rides 13-to-1 shot Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes to become the first female jockey ever to win a Triple Crown race.
Julieanne Louise Krone was born July 24, 1963, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, where her mother Judi was a riding instructor and raised horses on the family’s farm. Julie won her first horse race at just five years old in a 21-and-under race in which she exhibited a natural way with horses. Her talent continued to develop, and after Julie’s sophomore year of high school, her mother forged her birth certificate so that she appeared old enough to work for a summer exercising and grooming horses at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. As soon as Krone turned 18 in 1981, she dropped out of high school and moved to Tampa, Florida, to pursue a career as a jockey. She won her first professional race in short order, after having climbed a fence to get a tryout when she and her mother were denied admittance to the track. Krone was not always welcome in the male-dominated sport, but she pushed back when her male counterparts bullied her, and eventually won respect from most in the sport for her refusal to stand down. In 1987 and 1988, Krone was the leading money winner at both Monmount and Marymount, the New Jersey tracks where she rode.
The 1993 Belmont Stakes was Krone’s fourth mount in a classic, and the seventh time a woman had jockeyed in a Triple Crown race. The race began tragically, as Prairie Bayou, who placed in the Kentucky Derby and won the Preakness that year, tumbled and broke his shin and ankle; the horse had to be put down after the race. Still, Julie Krone was able to maintain her focus and rode Colonial Affair to a win by two-and-a-quarter lengths over Kissin Kris. After the race, jockey Scotty Shulhofer, who had initially objected to women racing with men, said “She talks to the horses in body language. They respond to her. She’s a very smart girl, with a great feel. I think she’s got the finest sense of horses of anyone around.”
Julie Krone retired in 1999 with 3,545 career wins, the most ever for a woman. In 2000, she became the first female jockey inducted into the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. She came out of retirement in 2002, and won that year’s Breeder’s Cup, but retired again after an accident in December 2003 with 3,704 victories and over $90 million in purses.