MAY 22, 1989
The first time Julie Krone got married, in 1995, she spent her wedding day at the track in Saratoga, riding six races before shedding her racing silks for a white satin wedding gown. There was no time for an immediate honeymoon; she had six mounts the next day. The marriage ended after four years. On May 27, Krone, 37, will tie the knot again, but this time she'll do things a bit differently. At a seaside ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif., a continent away from the Triple Crown hubbub, she will marry Jay Hovdey, an executive columnist for the Daily Racing Form. "Being in love and finally knowing what it's about, that's great," Krone says. "Horse racing was all I saw my whole life, but now I look forward to having kids. All I want to do is be a normal mother."
Such a statement would have been unthinkable to Krone a few years ago, when she was immersed in her career, which began at Tampa Bay Downs in 1981. With more than 3,500 victories and earnings of more than $81 million, she's the winningest female jockey in history. In the irons the 4'10�", 100-pound Krone earned praise for her patience. In the jock's room she won respect for standing up for herself. At Monmouth in '86, after a race in which Miguel Rujano had hit her in the ear with his whip, she punched him in the face and whacked him with a lawn chair. In June '93 she won the Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair to become the only woman to win a Triple Crown race. Two months later she became just the third jockey to ride five winners in one day at Saratoga.
Ten days after that, in a race at the same track, Krone shattered an ankle and suffered a cardiac contusion when she was trampled in a gruesome accident. She returned to riding prematurely in 1994 and then, only 13 days after coming back from a second round of surgery on her ankle, broke both her hands in a spill at Gulfstream Park in January '95. "That was too much," she says. "I had always been like, 'I can't wait!' But I just didn't want to go anymore. It was miserable." She stayed in the saddle for four more years but was never the same rider. On April 18, 1999, she hung up her tack for good.
When she's not taking care of her three saddle horses, Krone finds excitement riding the waves on her surfboard, which she does near the Del Mar, Calif., area house that she shares with Jay. She still works at several tracks as a commentator on Hollywood Park's cable and closed-circuit weekend racing shows, but she's comfortable watching from the rail. "I was always a daredevil," she says. "I don't feel I have to be the center of attention anymore. I'm so happy now. Who was I then? I have no idea."