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Julie Krone - History At Belmont

horse nack race hurt

Though she did not win either Triple Crown race in 1991, Krone returned for the Belmont Stakes, held in Elmont, New York, in 1993. She was assigned the long-shot Colonial Affair. "Let's go out and make some history," she reportedly said to her horse as they made their way to the track. And history was made that June 5, as Krone became the first woman to drive home a Triple Crown winner, riding a race characterized by Sports Illustrated writer William Nack as dominated by "patience, intelligence and tactical savvy." The Belmont win highlighted Krone in many fans' eyes as one of the best jockeys of her time, regardless of gender. That summer a writer for England's Economist sang her praises: "In an industry in which so many are obsessed by money—owners, trainers, and the midget millionaires who flog horses down the track—Ms Krone is a refreshing exception. She talks about few things other than her [horses], and she does this as an indulgent young schoolmarm would speak of her well-bred girls."

If the Belmont victory represented a career high, fate soon came crashing down. On August 30, 1993, riding in a race in Saratoga, New York, Krone was piloting Seattle Way down the homestretch when a horse to her inside, Bejilla Lass, cut in front of her. Standing in the stirrups, Krone screamed, "No, no!" But the warning came too late. The foreleg of Seattle Way clipped a hind leg of Bejilla Lass, and Krone's mount catapulted onto the hard turf. It was not Krone's first fall, but this crash was devastating, shattering the jockey's ankle. The damage was compounded when a passing horse caught Krone in the chest with a thrusting hind kick.

In Nack's article, the crash was recounted as "a kind of eerie free fall through spinning shadows, turning light to dark to light again." The injuries were instantly, horribly apparent: an right elbow bone protruding through the skin; a mutilated right ankle. "I've had bones that were broken clean in two," Krone told Nack, "but this was beyond that.… Normally you can say things to separate yourself from the pain: 'O.K., breathe. Do yoga. Don't lose control.' But with this, there was no control. My neck hurt and I couldn't breathe. I had no faculties. I was in outer space. I tried to pass out, but I couldn't. I swear, if I'd had the choice then, I would have contemplated suicide because it hurt so bad."

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