Throughout horse racing history, women have been instrumental in contributing to the progression and advancement of the sport.
Although horse racing remains a largely male-dominated world, women continue to break down barriers as jockeys, trainers, owners, breeders, and farm managers.
So seeing as how it’s Women’s History Month we at the Daily Racing Blog would like to celebrate a few of the women that have made a lasting impact, and paved the way for women in the sport today.
Rosemary Homeister Jr. — In 1992, Homeister became the first female rider to Win an Eclipse Award, earning year-end Champion honors as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. That breakthrough honor signaled the start of a highly successful riding career from 1992-2015 that saw her Win 2,784 races. All the while she earned respect as a jockey who had the proper mix of skill, talent, and determination to be a top rider on the ultra-competitive Florida circuit.
Julie Krone — In 1993, she became the first woman to Win a Triple Crown race when riding COLONIAL AFFAIR to Victory in the Belmont Stakes, and in 2003 Krone became the first woman to Win a Breeders’ Cup race when she rode HALFBRIDLED to Victory in the Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park. The all-time leader among female riders by Victories (3,704) and purse earnings ($90.1 million), Krone was the first woman inducted into the Racing Hall Of Fame in 2000.
Rosie Napravnik — In 2012, Napravik became the first woman to Win the Kentucky Oaks when she guided BELIVE YOU CAN to Victory. She was the first female jockey to compete in all of the Triple Crown races, in the same season (2013), and became the highest-placing woman rider in the Kentucky Derby when she finished 5th aboard MYLUTE. Napravnik was the first woman to ride multiple Breeders’ Cup Winners. She Won the leading jockey title at Fair Grounds every year from 2011 to 2014 and topped the fall meet standings at Keeneland in 2013 and 2014.
Penny Chenery — Best known as breeder and owner of 1973 Triple Crown Winner SECRETARIAT, The First Lady of Racing was so much more than that. In an age when there was little emphasis on providing women with an advanced education, Chenery attended Columbia Business School and used that business acumen to resuscitate faltering Meadow Stable, a racing and breeding operation founded by her father, Christopher. Chenery made sweeping changes and her wisdom and diligence paid off in a big way in 1972 when RIVA RIDGE Won the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes. The following year, SECRETARIAT became the first Triple Crown Winner since CITATION in 1948. Chenery went on to join Martha Gerry and Allaire du Pont as the first women to be admitted as members of The Jockey Club and remained an inspiration and cultural icon until her death in September 2017.
Marylou Whitney — Known as The Queen of Saratoga, the philanthropist and socialite helped lift the iconic, upstate New York town back from the doldrums by bringing the biggest Hollywood stars to Saratoga and throwing grand parties. Whitney, who died July 19, 2019, at age 93, carried on the legacy of one of Thoroughbred racing’s great dynasties and did so much more than simply race in the famed Eton blue and brown silks of the Whitney family. She became the first woman in 80 years to breed and own a Kentucky Oaks Winner (BIRD TOWN, 2003). She Won the Belmont Stakes and Travers the following year with homebred BIRDSTONE. Whitney also was presented with the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2010 and was elected to The Jockey Club in 2011.