Famous Female Jockeys

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Diane Crump made history on Feb. 7, 1969, when she rode a 3-year-old colt named Bridle 'n Bit to 10th place in a 12-horse race at Hialeah Park in Florida. She crashed the gender barrier and became the first female jockey to compete at a pari-mutuel track. But only a handful of women have made a major mark as jockeys in the decades that followed. "The fans in Florida and Kentucky were great," Crump told the Los Angeles Times in 1989. "It was in places like New York where the girls had trouble then. They couldn't take the pressure from the fans."

Julie Krone

  • Krone first rode a horse when she was 2 years old. Her mother was an equestrian competitor, but Steve Cauthen’s Triple Crown ride on Affirmed in 1978 inspired her to race horses. She became the first woman to win a Triple Crown race, prevailing at the 1993 Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair. She also became the first woman to win a Breeder's Cup race and and the first to become enshrined in thoroughbred racing's Hall of Fame. She won 3,704 races and produced $90 million in winnings.

Rosie Napravnik

  • She is widely regarded as the best female jockey since Krone. Napravnik became the first woman to ride in all three Triple Crown races in the same year and just the second woman jockey to win a Breeder's Cup race. “It really was the first- and second-generation female riders that opened the doors for someone like me,” she told The New York Times. “I didn’t have to go through any traumatic experiences. ... It’s just up to any female rider to have the talent, the drive, the skill and the determination to be in a male-dominated sport."

Patricia Cooksey

  • She followed Crump's lead, becoming the first woman to ride in the Preakness Stakes and the second to race in the Kentucky Derby. She was the first woman to win a six-figure race in California. Cooksey returned to racing after her successful battle against cancer, but she suffered two broken legs during a 2003 fall. She retired the next year after 26 years and 2,137 victories -- including 213 at Churchill Downs.

Robyn Smith

  • Back in 1973 she became the first female jockey to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, beating Krone to that high honor. She dabbled in acting, filmed television commercials and married actor-dancer Fred Astaire. They announced their engagement during a Barbara Walters special in 1980. She retreated from racing and the public spotlight during her marriage to the reclusive Astaire.

Rosemary Homeister Jr.

  • She started racing in 1992, becoming the first woman to win the Eclipse Award as top apprentice. Homeister ranks second to Krone in career victories by a female jockey. She retired in 2004, but returned to competition 18 months later. She took a hiatus in 2011 to give birth to her daughter, Victoria Rose. Homeister passed the 2,700 mark in career victories in 2014.

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  • Photo Credit marlenka/iStock/Getty Images
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