11/08/2002 12:00AM

Krone gets comeback win


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Julie Krone rode the first winner of her week-old comeback on Thursday at Hollywood Park. And the victory could not have come any easier.

Krone, a member of racing's Hall of Fame and the world's winningest female rider with 3,546 winners, rode Jade Vixen ($3.80) to a comfortable six-length win against maiden claimers in the eighth race.

The victory was the first success of a comeback that had been several months in the making. "I got a little teary-eyed when I pulled up," she said.

By the time, she returned to the winner's circle, Krone was displaying her customary ear-to-ear grin - and playful antics. After the winner's circle photo, she conducted a television interview near the racetrack. Then, while walking back to the jockey's room, she climbed onto a patio overlooking the winner's circle and greeted the commentators of a live program broadcast on TVG, where she became an instant guest.

Krone's win on Jade Vixen came six days into her comeback following an absence of 3 1/2 years from competitive racing. Jade Vixen was Krone's eighth mount in the last week, and first aboard a favorite.

There was little suspense through the seven-furlong race.

Jade Vixen was close to the pace in the first quarter-mile and dueled with Larkwood on the turn. By early stretch, Krone had Jade Vixen comfortably in front. They pulled away to win easily, allowing Krone to mug for the track photographer, pointing her index finger to the camera as if to say, number one.

Trained by Jose DeLima, Jade Vixen had been second in four consecutive races.

Krone, 39, announced she was going to make a comeback in mid-October after having spent the last two summers working as an exercise rider for trainer Richard Mandella. Mounts have been slow for Krone at a time when entries have not been plentiful at Hollywood Park.

Jade Vixen was Krone's lone mount on Thursday. She had one ride on Wednesday and Thursday, but no mounts on Saturday. On Sunday, Krone has two mounts, including Not for Me in the Steinlen Handicap.