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Women’s Sports Foundation® selects female jockey, Julie Krone, the 2004 Wilma Rudolph Courage Award recipient

October 18, 2004     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Alison Sawyer

NEW YORK, NY, October 18, 2004 –The Women’s Sports Foundation will tonight honor female jockey Julie Krone for her perseverance and passion for the sport of horse racing.  Krone will be honored during the award ceremonies at the Foundation’s 25th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

 The Wilma Rudolph Courage Award has been presented to a female athlete who exhibits extraordinary courage in her athletic performance, demonstrates the ability to overcome adversity, makes significant contributions to sports and serves as an inspiration and role model for others.  “I am grateful to be recognized for my desire to compete through the ups and downs,” said Krone.  “I want to be remembered for my passion and dedication to the sport of horse racing.”

 18 years of competition and more than 3,700 races has made Julie Krone a legend in a sport that has always been dominated by men.  Since she began riding competitively at the age of five, Krone’s journey to the top has been filled with the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the painful road to recovery. 

 After years of working her way up through the lower ranks of racing, it was in 1981 that  Krone would get her first trot around the winner’s circle at Tampa Bay Downs after winning the race with her horse Lord Farkle.  This was her first, but certainly not her last.  In 1986, Krone’s mounts earned $2.3 million, which was the highest earnings for a female jockey that year.  In 1987 she was the first woman to win a riding title at a major track --Aqueduct in New York--and in 1988, Krone became the leading female jockey by winning her 1,205th race.  In 1991, Krone made her Triple Crown racing debut and two years later, would make history as the first woman to win a Triple Crown event at the 125-year-old Belmont Stakes.  Two months after her victory at Belmont, Krone became just the third jockey ever to ride into the winner’s circle five times in one day at Saratoga. 

 It was ten days later that Krone encountered her first major accident in which she was thrown free from her horse causing her to shatter her ankle that required two steel plates, 14 screws and nine months of rehabilitation to repair.  Less than a year after returning to the track, she suffered another serious blow when she spilled at Gulfstream Park on January 13, 1996, fracturing both of her hands which required six weeks of rehabilitation.  Although she healed more quickly than the first time, this fall left Krone with nightmares about falling and soon lead to intrusive, self-destructive thoughts.  It wasn’t until she got help from a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder, that she began winning again.  When she finished second in the jockey standings in 1998 at Monmouth Park, she felt she had beaten her demons.

 On April 19, 1999, after 19 years of competition and 3,545 winners, Krone retired from the world of racing. She eventually relocated to California to pursue opportunities as a racing analyst on television, but her achievements were not soon forgotten. In the summer of 2000, Krone became the first woman to be inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

 At the age of 39, in November of 2002, Krone emerged from retirement to begin riding on the highly competitive Southern California circuit.  Despite an injury that cost her four months of the 2003 season, she still won such prestigious events as the Pacific Classic, the Del Mar Futurity and the Hollywood Derby. The highpoint of her comeback came at the 2003 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park, where Krone rode to victory in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

 Shortly after reaching a career milestone of more than 3,700 winners, Krone was injured again in December of 2003 and has not competed since. Her legacy will always stand as the first woman to win both a Triple Crown race and a Breeders' Cup event on the championship day, as well as being the only woman inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

 Through the wins, the losses, the setbacks and the ground-breaking records, her boundless courage and her passion for the sport of horse racing has never been questioned, accomplishing all of this as a 4-foot-10 1/2 inch woman in a world of male rivals and 1,200-pound Thoroughbreds.

 Founded in 1974 by Billie Jean King, the Women’s Sports Foundation is a national charitable educational organization seeking to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The Foundation’s Participation, Education, Advocacy, Research and Leadership programs are made possible by individual and corporate contributions. The Foundation is located in Nassau County, N.Y. For more information, please call the Foundation at 800-227-3988.  You can also visit our Web sites,  or AOL Keyword: WSF.