Julie Krone Is More than the Best Female Jockey
OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) _ Calling Julie Krone the best female jockey of all time might be short- changing her.
Krone is among thoroughbred racing’s very best riders, male or female, and the gregarious, 25-year-old with the non-stop squeaky voice has the numbers to prove it.
Forget that her 1,600-plus wins are the most ever by a female rider.
Look instead at her recent accomplishments. She was the second leading rider at the Aqueduct winter meet, and third best this spring competing against the New York jockey colony that includes Angel Cordero, Jose Santos and Chris Antley.
Back in New Jersey, Krone is running away with a third straight jockey’s title at Monmouth Park. Through 12 days, she has 29 winners. Her next closest competitor has 11.
″She adapts herself to a horse’s running style and the changing conditions in a race as well as anyone,″ trainer John Forbes said. ″She takes all the information as the race unfolds, puts it together and comes up with the right answer at the end.″
That’s glowing praise from a trainer who laughs about how he got to know Krone a couple of years ago.
Forbes was training horses in New Jersey and also had some in Maryland, which were being taken care of by his assistant, Steve Brown.
One day after one of the Maryland horses was to run, Forbes picked up a racing paper to see how it did. There beside the name of the horse was Krone’s name.
Forbes immediately picked up the telephone and talked to Brown and the following conversation ensued:
″Isn’t Krone a girl?″
″You put a girl on my horse 3/8″
Brown reassured his boss that the girl could ride and Krone was eventually sent to New Jersey to showcase her talents for Forbes and Peter Shannon, who owned several horses trained by Forbes. Both liked what they saw.
″There are a number of things we like about her,″ veteran trainer Danny Perlsweig said. ″Number one is she is very calm on her horse and then again, she’s very aggressive. She is a good judge of pace and she’s very competitive.″
″She just wants it so bad,″ added her agent, Larry Cooper.
Forbes saw all that in a race last week at Monmouth Park, a $27,000 allowance race in which Krone was riding a horse called Sweet Blow Pop.
″I just happened to focus on her and on the backstretch you could see her horse wanted to run,″ he said. ″His mouth was open and you could see her struggling so the horse wouldn’t run up the heels of the horses in front of her.
″If you watch that race, she had about an eighth of a mile to make a decision. She could have taken the chicken way out, and taken the horse to the outside or stayed there and got the horse to relax.″
In the next eighth of a mile, Krone somehow communicated with Sweet Blow Pop. The horse relaxed, the reins suddenly had more play and Krone confidently sat behind the leaders and waited. At the top of the stretch, a opening appeared on the rail, Sweet Blow Pop was urged through and Krone had another winner.
Krone, a Benton Harbor, Mich., native who grew up surrounded by horses, walks a thin line of enjoying her success and not letting it get the best of her.
She has been on the David Letterman and Johnny Carson shows, has an army of children who constantly ask for her autograph and has goals of going to the winners circle in the Triple Crown and BreedersCup races.
She is also aware of the dangers of riding, which once left her with a broken back.
″Racing is a scary game, and anything can happen,″ she said. ″You have to keep working hard. Who knows? I could go a couple of weeks and not win a race.″
Krone plays the game very well, particularly with the trainers and owners. She jokes about the early years when her mother forged her birth certificate to get her a job on a track as a 15-year-old.
And later on, when certain trainers wouldn’t let ″the girl″ on their horses, Krone showed up early in the morning at their stables with boxes of donuts.
Trainer Harry Wells is her pet project at Monmouth. The 76-year-old trainer still hasn’t let Krone ride one of his horses.
″I showed up at his stable one morning with a mustache and told him my name was Bobby Johnson, that I was the new kid on the block and that I wanted to ride his horses,″ Krone said. ″He laughed. But I’m going to get him to give me a ride.″
Wells latest response was maybe, Krone says with an angelic smile.
And a chance is all Krone has ever needed to prove herself.
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