Indeed she did. Riding Colonial Affair with a confidence that has become her signature, Krone let him drop back, but not too far back, and then took him wide down the backside to keep him clear of the mud-slinging leaders up front. "You don't want horses to get so much dirt in their face that they become discouraged," she said later.
Heading into the far turn Krone had Colonial Affair out of trouble, and she could feel him running into the bridle. She kept chanting to herself, "I have a ton of horse, I have a ton of horse." At the half-mile pole, into the far turn, she could feel the colt surging into the bit. "I said, 'Now he's ready,' " recalled Krone. "No horse was running as strong as my horse."
Fifteen years earlier, when she was 14, Krone had watched on TV when the young Steve Cauthen won the Belmont and the Triple Crown on Affirmed. She turned to her mother, Judi, and said, 'Mom, I'm going to be a jockey.' "
Now, turning for home, with Colonial Affair sweeping four-wide past the field, her mind flashed back to that far-off afternoon in 1978. "I am going to win the race I watched on TV when I was a kid," she thought. Then she said, "It was like a dream come true."
Heading into the stretch they were a sight, those two: this giant thoroughbred, more than 68 inches tall at the withers, and on his back this sprite with the muddy face and the straw-blonde hair, pushing and shoving and bouncing him home. By the time they had sailed past the eighth pole, Colonial Affair led by three lengths. He won it by 2�, and Schulhofer and Krone had won their first Belmont.
Schulhofer greeted Colonial Affair and Krone at the gap leading to the winner's circle. "I told you that you could do it!" he hollered up to Krone, and then he turned to a bystander and said, "She rode the horse to perfection."
Down in the jock's room an hour after the race, Krone called her mother in Florida. "I'm on the ceiling," Judi told her. "Come scrape me off."
Krone called her father in Michigan: "Hi, Dad. I won the Belmont!"
Outside the jock's room the man who had ridden Secretariat to the Triple Crown in 1973, Ron Turcotte, wheeled up in the chair to which he has been confined since a riding accident left him a paraplegic in 1978. "You're so happy you don't know where you're goin', right?" he said to Krone.
"I'm delirious," she said.