Here’s something cool that sets horse racing apart from other sports: it’s the only sport in which the women compete directly against the boys. And we’re not just talking about the fillies. We’re talking about jockeys and trainers. Sure there are races like the Longines Kentucky Oaks where the fillies take each other on, but for the most part racing is an equal opportunity sport. It wasn’t always …you know how the old days used to be. Like most things it took some pioneers to move us along.
In Kentucky, fillies were in the game early with Regret winning the Derby in 1915. For trainers and jockeys it took a little more time. Before the first Kentucky racing license was issued to a female trainer named Mary Hirsch in 1935, the clever woman snuck her horses to the post under her brother’s and father's names. Then she became the first women to train a Derby winner in 1937.
It was another 32 years before jockey Diane Crump (above in 1970) became the first woman to ride in an American parimutuel race. That happened in 1969 – the year we landed on the moon and the first year that women were licensed to be jockeys. One year later Diane became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby.
Then came more women and with them more firsts for women in racing, which we've outlined below. We're excited for the day we can add a particularly important first: the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. It’ll happen, just like everything below happened…it’s only a matter of time.
Jockey Patti Cooksey
- 1st to ride in the Preakness – 1985
- 1st to receive the New York Racing Associations Mike Venzia Memorial Award for Extraordinary Sportsmanship and Citizenry – 2004
Jockey Julie Krone (above in 1995)
- 1st to win a Triple Crown race at Belmont – 1993
- 1st to win Breeder's Cup - 2003
- 1st to be inducted into the Hall of Fame - 2000
Jockey Rosie Napravnik
- 1st to win the Oaks - 2012
- 1st to win the Oaks AGAIN - 2014
- 1st to ride in all three Triple Crown races - 2013
- 1st to win Breeder’s Cup TWICE - 2014
Trainer Mary Keim
- 1st to train an Oaks Winner – 1965
Trainer Shelley Riley
- 1st to train a Derby runner up – 1992
- 1st to train a horse in all three Triple Crown races - 1992
Trainer Jenine Sahadi
- 1st to win a Breeder's Cup race - 1996