Updated on 09/17/2011 2:01PM

Krone unlikely to ride again

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Julie Krone announced Wednesday that she will not ride at Del Mar this year. "I might get some desire to ride again, but it's doubtful," she said.

Julie Krone, the top winning female jockey and the only woman in racing's Hall of Fame, said Wednesday that she will not ride this summer at Del Mar and is unlikely to ride again.

While stopping short of declaring an outright retirement, Krone tiptoed right up to that line.

Asked if she would ever ride again, Krone said, "I'm leaning towards no," then added, "but right now, I've first got to focus on feeling good."

"Not riding again is not out of the question," said Krone, who will turn 41 on July 24. "Who knows? I might get some desire to ride again, but it's doubtful."

Krone has not raced since February, and she continues to recuperate from injuries suffered in a fall last December. Her announcement comes less than two weeks after the retirement of P.J. Cooksey, racing's second-leading female rider.

Krone won 3,704 races, and her mounts earned $90,125,088. She was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2000, having won 3,545 races by that point. She is the only female rider to win a Triple Crown race or a Breeders' Cup race. She captured the 1993 Belmont Stakes aboard Colonial Affair and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Halfbridled last fall at Santa Anita.

Krone said she decided to make an announcement because Del Mar's summer meeting, which opens July 21, was near and interest would be renewed over her status. Krone lives 15 minutes from Del Mar in Carlsbad, Calif., with her husband, Daily Racing Form executive columnist Jay Hovdey.

"Now that I realize it's going to be in my backyard, I can't hide any more," Krone said, laughing. "I just know I'm not going to be ready by then."

Krone fractured several ribs and suffered severe muscle tears in an accident at Hollywood Park on Dec. 12. She attempted to come back but went to the sidelines again after riding only one day, Feb. 11 at Hollywood. She was winless on three mounts that day.

Although it has been nearly seven months since the initial accident, Krone said she still "does not have my full range of motion."

"I'm still sore," she said. "I've been doing yoga and physical therapy. When I had the accident, it felt like I was paralyzed from the waist up. The muscles were damaged in my rib cage. I almost couldn't stand up by myself. It was quite bad.

"The muscles in the front of my chest still spasm once in awhile," Krone said. "I've been in more pain and have had this zinging feeling, which means the nerves there are regenerating. It hurts a little more. My chest muscles are still giving me trouble. Maybe it'll feel better by the end of the summer. I just know that now is not the right time to dedicate myself to thinking about riding."

Krone was based on the East Coast through 1999, when she left riding for a 3 1/2-year layoff. She returned to competition in California in November 2002. In March 2003, she fractured vertebrae in her lower back in an accident on Santa Anita's hillside turf course. She returned four months later and had a brilliant summer at Del Mar. Krone finished second in the standings to Patrick Valenzuela and won the meet's three biggest races - the Pacific Classic with Candy Ride, the Del Mar Debutante with Halfbridled, and the Del Mar Futurity with Siphonizer. In October, Krone won her first Breeders' Cup race, aboard Halfbridled.

If she never rides again, Krone said she will not feel as though she were cheated out of a full comeback.

"Not one bit," she said. "I'm so grateful. I was blessed to ride Candy Ride in the Pacific Classic, to win a Breeders' Cup race. If I don't look back on this and smile, something's wrong.

"I was off for 3 1/2 years. I had to meet new fans, new horsemen. I won the stakes opening day at Santa Anita," she said, referring to the Malibu Stakes in December 2002 with Debonair Joe. "I did a whirlwind tour of California racing in 13 months. I had a lot of fun."

Krone said that when she retired in 1999, she never believed she would ride again. That is why she did not want to slam the door shut on the possibility of riding in the future.

"How can you walk away and say you're never going to ride again, and then scratch your head 3 1/2 years later and say, 'Hmmm'?" she said. "Maybe that last little flurry was what I needed."

Last year, Krone won 139 races and her mounts earned $8,202,107, which placed her 20th in purse earnings nationally despite being sidelined for four months. She tied for 12th in stakes victories with 24.

California has seen a number of Hall of Fame jockeys retire in the last two years. Chris McCarron retired in June 2002, Eddie Delahoussaye in January 2003, and Laffit Pincay Jr. in April 2003. Both Delahoussaye and Pincay were forced to retire because of injuries suffered in riding accidents.

Krone said the injuries of Delahoussaye and Pincay and the riding death last year of Mike Rowland at Turfway Park weighed on her mind. "It's very sobering for someone of my generation," she said.

Top female riders

RIDERMOUNTSWINSPURSE EARNINGS
J. Krone21,4113,704$90,125,088
P. Cooksey18,2512,13719,883,740
V. Baze11,2431,76911,641,753
J. Jellison *13,9871,73911,669,073
R. Homeister *12,7001,69727,380,052

* Still active; statistics through Tuesday

Career highlights

* Only woman to win a Triple Crown race, the 1993 Belmont aboard Colonial Affair
* Only woman to win a Breeders' Cup race, the 2003 Juvenile Fillies aboard Halfbridled
* Only woman in racing's Hall of Fame, inducted in 2000