By Katie Ritz
Julie Krone remembers the summer of 2003 as one of her favorite seasons in racing. After coming out of a three-year retirement in November of 2002, it was the summer where she and Candy Ride (Arg) battled with Jerry Bailey and Medaglia d’Oro in the GI Pacific Classic S., when her mount crossed the wire three lengths in front. Later that year, she would go on to ride Halfbridled (Unbridled) to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, becoming the first woman jockey to win a Breeders’ Cup race. But it would also be her last summer competing as a jockey.
This summer will look a bit different for the Hall of Famer, but she said she is equally as excited to be making her return into the racing world. Krone has announced that she will become the agent for Ferrin Peterson, a 28-year-old jockey who was making waves last summer at Del Mar and is now preparing for this year’s season at Monmouth Park, a track that has a special place in Krone’s heart.
Peterson is also a graduate of UC Davis with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. As well as a former NCAA Division I pole vaulter. And is also an equine veterinary acupuncturist.
Krone has been away from the spotlight for many years, but she has been far from sedentary. She has her daughter Lorelei, now 15, whom she pours her energy into as a mother and a home school teacher.
With her daughter looking towards college, Krone said that she had recently been considering getting back into racing, but that she has never wanted to be a part of something halfway. “It’s been a lot of ebbing and flowing, going towards racing and away again for me,” she said. “There’s this poet named David Whyte, and he talks about how it’s okay to step away from something, but when you come back, you should be all the better for it. You don’t rest from something and then come back not accomplishing anything. If you are pulling away from what you’re passionate about, then you better step away. I know that racing is not the kind of sport that you want to be in halfway.”
When Krone learned about Ferrin Peterson, she knew she was ready to take the jump.
Krone met Peterson at a book signing last summer at Del Mar. Peterson was going to wait in line to meet her childhood idol, but the line was too long. So she found Krone as she was walking out of the track.
“We started talking and with her passion for the sport and desire to be a jockey, I instantly knew this girl was infectious,” Krone recalled. “So I went home and watched her races, and then I knew she was good.”
While she is fully immersed in racing now, Peterson’s start in the industry was anything but conventional. She grew up with no racing connections, but competed with her Arabian in equitation and dressage. She always had the seemingly far-fetched dream of becoming a jockey, so she pursued a career as a veterinarian in hopes to one day become a racetrack veterinarian. During her first years in vet school, she worked as an exercise rider and soon realized her childhood dream could still become a reality.
In 2018, approaching her final year of vet school, Peterson obtained her jockey’s license and made her career start in February at Golden Gate. She competed at various tracks for the next two years throughout California while attending class and studying in between morning workouts and afternoon races.
“Nobody could stop her,” Krone said. “She would go take a test, do a surgery, and then drive to the track for the weekend and ride four horses. I’m like ‘Who does that? You’re crazy.'”
Upon graduating and receiving her medical degree last May, Peterson was able to fully dedicate herself to racing.
Krone watched the young athlete fight her way through Del Mar’s competitive summer session with 18 mounts for the meet, and the two developed a close relationship.
“She made me want to get behind her,” Krone said. “I saw her riding with nice long reins and her horsemanship was beautiful. She gets along with any horse and is so dedicated, smart, and articulate. She’s a pleasure to be around. I knew she was something I could believe in and I wanted to be a part of it.”
So when Del Mar’s meet ended, Krone encouraged Peterson to stay with her in San Diego.
The duo has been working together for the last six months with Krone putting the young doctor through jockey boot camp.
“We talked racehorses and strategy, and we watched races together,” Krone said. “It’s been incredible to watch her change as an athlete. While we were all sitting around eating dinner, she would be on the Equicizer doing her thing.”
While Peterson’s dedication to her sport is hard to miss, Krone said her personality never fails to shine through. “We were at a big event where every single important racing person was there. It was so fun to watch her. She’ll be standing there and nobody will talk to her, then one person comes over, and then before you know it, she’s telling some story and she has 20 people around her. I’m very lucky to be a part of her story. We make a really good team and she appreciates me. I feel like it’s one of the times that I can say this is something I believe in.”
She continued, “If you even knew her for a day, you would want her to be the leading apprentice jockey in the nation. She’s so likeable. I’m really looking forward to showing people what a great jockey she’s going to be.”
While Krone is busy fulfilling her new title of jockey agent, she said still finds time to commit to her other passions.
“I really love being a mother,” Krone said. “Motherhood can be a full-time job if you want to do it that way, and that’s how I wanted to do it. You try to be the best you can be at something. I remember this one day of parenting, I decided to make her go to time out, so I put her in the bedroom and told her to think about what she’d done. I listened to her through the baby monitor and she was talking about what an awful person she was and questioning how her mother could even love her. So I said ‘Okay, we’re never doing time outs again.’ So you learn as you go.”
Lorelei never caught the racing bug, but she has introduced her mother to an entirely different world.
“She told me she didn’t want to do horses anymore, she wanted to do theater,” Krone said. “So when she was seven, she auditioned for The Sound of Music. Do you remember when the von Trapp children line up and they’re introducing themselves? Well when Lorelei stepped out and shouted ‘Gretl!’ and the crowd ‘awwed,’ I saw her go ‘Oh this is where I belong.'”
Krone has joined her daughter in the theater world, discovering a passion for costuming and staging.
“I love theater and it was really fun to get into my artistic side,” the record-breaking athlete said. “I’m really into painting stages and making costumes. I’ve even gotten a few small theater awards.”
While Krone transitions into her new role as agent, Peterson is galloping at Overbrook Farm in Colts Neck, NJ in preparation to base her summer racing season at Monmouth Park. Krone will be joining her protégé in New Jersey next month.
“I want this summer to be where she can ride every day and finally reap the rewards of all she’s been doing,” Krone said. “I don’t know if I will get to be there to watch her, but the idea of walking around Monmouth Park with Ferrin makes my heart burst with joy, to be in those hallowed grounds representing a jockey I believe in with so much talent.
And while there’s no denying that Peterson is certainly a gifted athlete, she also has the drive and intelligence to graduate from professional school.
“She brings a whole new aspect to riding as a veterinarian,” Krone said. “Not only is she in their minds and good at calming down the nervous ones, she knows and understands how their bodies work.”
But woe to the person who calls Peterson anything but a jockey.
“Do not call her a veterinarian or an acupuncturist,” Krone warned. “She’ll reattach to that later on, but right now she’s an athlete. She doesn’t want to be an intellect.”
The determined competitor has had her fair share of attempted discouragement.
“It’s fun to watch people try to tell her, ‘Oh, being a jockey is so dangerous and you’re so pretty, why don’t you just go be a veterinarian and stop this nonsense.’ But then they realize you’re never going to talk her out of it. So you might as well grab on and go for the ride. She’s going to be unstoppable, and I can’t wait for when people say, ‘I want to put this veterinarian on my horse.'”