Krone was soon back riding Lily in the mornings, and toward the middle of May, sure enough, with Krone's own comeback looming at the end of the month, she and Jerkens found a May 26 allowance race that suited the horse. Krone was walking a horse to the main track starting gate one morning when she spotted Cooper. "There's a race for Lily next week," Krone called to him.
"How far is it?" he asked.
"Three quarters," she said. "I got on her this morning, and she is wild. She'll win, Snake. She will win."
Krone returned to the races on May 25 and finished third on her first mount, Baypark, in the fourth, and eighth aboard Life Boat in the eighth. By then she had come to terms with the risks of riding a fragile, 1,000-pound animal doing 35 mph in swerving traffic. "I know it's a dangerous business," she says, "but I still have the passion for racing and getting into the winner's circle."
That night, after the races were finished, she walked into Jerkens's barn and fed Lily a bunch of white grapes. Krone is fluent in two languages, new English and Old Equine: "I told her, 'Now, Lily, both of us have to get our status back as being the tops.' Lily said, 'Got any more of those grapes?' "
At 3:29 p.m. on May 26, Krone was still winless in her comeback but was now sitting poised and chilly, ready to pounce, as she and Lily bounded through the top of the final straight.
They were in second place with 360 yards to the wire. The[3/16] pole flashed by on the left. And here all the waiting ended. With Hayley's Abby beginning to tire on the rail, Krone started driving with her arms. In a burst she Pulled alongside Hayley's Abby, opened a length lead as she and Lily made the eighth pole, and pulled away in the final eighth to beat Waving the Flag, with Leon aboard, by a length and a half.
Suddenly there was Krone, a few ecstatic moments later, hopping off the filly in the winner's circle and heading up the tunnel toward the jocks' room, her cars ringing with salutes: "Way to go, Julie." And "Julie, where's my kiss?" And "Julie, you're back!"
She took off sprinting, pumping her right arm as she went, singing, "Yes...yes...yes!"