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Horse Racing

Calling it a career

Racing's most successful female jockey to retire

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Posted: Friday April 09, 1999 09:37 AM

  Julie Krone became the first female to win riding titles at major tracks like Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands. Andy Lyons/Allsport

NEW YORK (AP) -- Eighteen years and $80 million later, Julie Krone called it a career Thursday.

Krone, thoroughbred racing's most successful female jockey, announced her retirement at Aqueduct Racetrack, saying "there's a constellation of reasons for me to retire."

"I'm on top, I'm 35 years old, and I don't want to do this anymore," Krone said. "I don't want to get hurt any more, and I've got nothing left to prove."

Krone has won 3,541 races, including 276 stakes, and is the only female rider to win a Triple Crown race. In 1993, Krone guided Colonial Affair to victory in the Belmont Stakes.

Most recently, she finished third in the rider standings at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana with 84 winners.

"I had five-win days and got my 3,500th winner, but it was like this Olympic runner I read about [who set three world records the summer she decided to quit]," Krone 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.'"

So, after earning more than $80 million in purses, Krone leaves her mark as the first woman jockey to succeed in a sport dominated by men. Donna Barton, the No. 2 female rider, earned about one-fourth as much as Krone.

Krone will honor her riding commitments through April 18.

"She's been an inspiration for not only me, but for every girl that came along," said jockey Diane Nelson, a close friend of Krone's. "I can certainly remember a change happening, when you had big outfits, and the nice horses, and people would take a chance on a girl. It wasn't an oddity."

Krone, 4-foot-10 1/2 and 100 pounds, has been one of racing's most recognizable figures. Her distinctive squeaky-pitched voice belied a fearless approach to riding.

Krone began her impressive run of success in 1987, five years after winning her first riding title at Atlantic City. She became the first female to win riding titles at major tracks such as Monmouth Park and the Meadowlands in New Jersey. In 1989, she was the nation's third-leading rider with 368 winners.

By 1991, she was a regular on the New York circuit and a year later won a career-best $9.1 million in purses. In '92 and '93, Krone won riding titles at Gulfstream Park.

Her success continued in '93. On Aug. 20, she became the third jockey to win five races in a day at Saratoga Race Course. Angel Cordero Jr. and Ron Turcotte were the others.

But 10 days later, Krone went down in a spill and severely fractured her right ankle, which required two plates and 14 screws to reconstruct. Nine months later, she was riding again.

On Jan. 13, 1995, she was thrown from her horse again, this time at Gulfstream. Krone broke both hands, but when she returned she never regained her top form.

Last November, Krone broke her right knee at the Meadowlands. She won the race, and then added two more winners before the fracture was diagnosed a day later.

Krone was back racing three months later, and on Feb. 16 she posted her 3,500th victory, guiding May B A Walk to a win at the Fair Grounds. She celebrated with a backward handspring.

Krone, married since 1995 to Matt Muzikar, won her first race with Lord Farkle at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12, 1981.

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