Racing: Colonial rule proves historic for Krone

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JULIE KRONE became the first female jockey to win an American Triple Crown race when she steered Colonial Affair to victory in the 125th running of the Belmont Stakes in New York on Saturday, writes John Cobb.

Despite the historic nature of her win - the first by a woman in a Triple Crown event in any major racing country, let alone on the ultra-competitive American circuit - her success was overshadowed by the death of Prairie Bayou. He had started favourite for the race after winning the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes. On Saturday he got no further than the back stretch where he limped to a halt with a broken foreleg. He was later destroyed, thus becoming the second casualty of the 1993 Triple Crown after Union City's death (also broke a leg) in the Preakness.

'The question is how can a horse galloping along, absolutely sound, hit the ground and break itself up like that?' Prairie Bayou's owner, John Anthony, said. 'I don't have an answer. The track was safe, it had a little rain on it, but it wasn't sloppy or bad. It's something you can't explain.'

Those with happier reasons for explanation were Krone and the winning trainer, Scotty Schulhofer. 'We put blinkers on him and it helped,' Schulhofer said. 'We moved too soon in the Peter Pan (Stakes). We waited on him here and the distance helped.'

Krone could not quite agree with that. 'When I turned for home, I thought 'now I'm going to win the Belmont',' she said. 'But it just seemed to get longer and longer, the longest stretch I've come down in my life.'

That is not the remark of a callow newcomer as Krone, 29, has ridden horses that have earned more than dollars 50m. 'About 10 or 11 years ago I watched Steve Cauthen win the Belmont,' Krone said, miscalculating the years since Cauthen's 1978 success on Affirmed. 'I thought some day I'm going to do that too.'