First Woman Inducted Into Racing's Hall of Fame

Aug. 7, 2000 -- Julie Krone made history … again.

Today, she became the first woman to be inducted into thoroughbred racing’s hall of fame, instantly becoming a legend in her field. She already made history in 1993 when she became the first woman to capture the Triple Crown. “Life cannot get any better,” she said at Monday’s induction ceremonies for the National Racing Hall ofFame in Saratoga Springs. “I’m extremely happy and I take a lot of pride in being the first female. It’s a big compliment,” she said on the eve of her induction. “But being the first female isn’t what makes it special for me, it’s just the honor of making it to the hall.”

A Good Rider

Downplaying the gender issue, Krone says she wants to be known simply as a good rider. But to call Krone, 37, a pioneer would be an understatement. Her 3,545 career wins and $81 million in prize money over 19 seasons are records for women. She was the first woman to win a Triple Crown race when she captured the Belmont Stakes aboard 14-1 shot Colonial Affair in 1993.

She also owns gender-less records. In 1993, she joined good friend Angel Cordero, Jr. and Ron Turcotte as the only jockeys to have won five races in one day at Saratoga Race Course in New York.

And that’s how Krone says she wants to be known: as a good rider. Period.

“I didn’t want to be the best female jockey in the world. I wanted to be the best jockey,” said Krone, who retired last year.

Thanks to Mom

Krone credits her late mother, Judi, with getting her involved in horses. It was Judi who climbed into a truck and drove Julie down to Churchill Downs in Kentucky so her daughter could become a jockey.

She even forged her daughter’s birth certificate because Julie, then 15, was too young to be admitted on the grounds at Churchill Downs. “We went to the grocery store, and she put a ‘7’ above the ‘5’ in my age and made a photo copy of it,” Julie recalled.

Krone moved to Tampa, Fla., shortly thereafter to live at her grandmother’s house and ride at the Tampa Bay Downs Racetrack. Trainer Bud Delp gave her a break and let her ride, and soon Krone was moving up to the New Jersey circuit.

Sometimes she heard fans yell things like, “Go home and wash the dishes,” but Krone downplays any discrimination she experienced at the track.

“Eventually I rode a lot, so I guess I didn’t have it that tough,” she said. “There were challenges, but I don’t think anybody has an easy time.”

“Right now, I can’t think of a female rider who reached the stature that she’s reached,” said Kaplan. “That tells you something right there as far as how good she was.”Also inducted today was Neil Drysdale, trainer of this year’sKentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus. Equine inductees were Needles, the 1956 Kentucky Derby champion,1992 Horse of the Year A-P Indy and Winning Colors, the 1988 Derbywinner.

Tracy Ziemer of and the Associated Press contributed to this report