SI Vault
Gary Smith
May 22, 1989
...laughs lustily, which is just what Julie Krone can do as she sits astride the horse racing world
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May 22, 1989

She Who Laughs Last...

...laughs lustily, which is just what Julie Krone can do as she sits astride the horse racing world

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Sunday, Dec. 31, 1978—It was raining today and kinda cold. I went out I and practiced my horse Ralphy. Not all jockeys I have the skill to change I the whip from side to side but I'm gonna. Thats why I'm gonna be the greatest jock in the I world because I think I can. I know I can.

Monday, Jan. 8, 1979—Our cats got put to sleep today. They all had luceimea. I cried (all 7 of them), Rug Rat and Blue my two favorites dead. I can't believe it. I loved them so much (thats life).

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1979—I could not even sleep last night. I'm reading The Lady Is a Jock. It's wild I can't even go to sleep. When I do I have dreams that wake me up (about racing). Sleep with my whip. I've got my alarm set for 4:00 so I can breeze my horse in the morning. Got all my close in the bathroom. I'm gonna get up, ride, take a bath, eat, then go to school and not miss the bus.

Wednesday, Feb. 21, 1979—Boy I felt lousy today. The kid I'm going with (Curt) doesn't think I like him no more but I do. Most girls when they're going with a guy dream about them. I keep dreaming of a horse race in slow motion over and over and every time I get to pick out what I did wrong. It was so nete I still can't sleep. It's terrible. (No it's not.)

Sunday, March 4, 1979—Mom told Doc Shaub that I was gonna be a jockey. He told her to go home and hit me on the head.

I don't need a education it's all just a
bunch of coplacation
There's something in side of me I must
go to Kentucky.
I'm only in the 10th grade but you
know what I should do
I should run away and see you

It's an hour past midnight, when her mother comes home from bartending. Sometimes on nights like this, when it's late and Julie Krone is scared and alone and waiting at the window, she finds the shirt her mother wore during the day when they were outside together, working with the horses, and she puts it to her nose and smells it till she hears the wheels of the pickup crunching the gravel on the driveway. But no, not tonight, she's too excited for that. At sunup, they plan to leave for Churchill Downs. By sundown, if she's lucky, her career as a jockey will begin.

She is 15 years old, 16 if you believe the birth certificate her mother faked so Julie could get work at the track. Just typed the word April, cut it out, laid it over the July on the certificate. Xeroxed it and, suddenly, Julie was legal. Neat, huh? Just remember that, kid: If you want to do something bad enough, there are no such things as fences.

The door on the pickup slams and her mother walks into the house, smelling of cigarette smoke from the bar. They hug and pull back and look at each other—yes, of course, the mother should tell the daughter to go to bed now and sleep so they can start the six-hour trip to Kentucky early—and in no time they're on their horses riding up Oxbow Road, 1:30 in the morning. Julie's on her Arabian, Ralph, breathing in the blossoms on the apple trees and all the new leaves, smelling the land waking up the way it does in Michigan in the spring, feeling so sad and so happy all at once that she can't tear the two apart because who knows when she'll see Ralph or her dogs or her cats or her friends or even her mother again after tomorrow? It's you and me against the world, Julie—that's what her mother has been telling her ever since the divorce last year. And now it's going to be just Julie.

The moon is a sliver in the sky, and the night is quiet, just eight hooves on the road. Julie leans down and hugs Ralph so hard that he snorts. And then she hears her mother start to sing, real soft, the rhythm of the words the same as the beat of the hooves. Julie loves to memorize songs, she loves to write poetry. She listens to a couple of verses, then the two of them are singing together.

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