The History of Women Jockeys in the Kentucky Derby

Posted by Evan Chronis on January 21, 2021

There are few rarities left in sports, but one of the truly scarce occurrences is seeing a female jockey compete at Churchill Downs®. 

While there's no noted reason for why the sport is dominated by male jockeys, it's been refreshing in recent history to see women start to take the reigns and make a name for themselves on the track. But the biggest hill to climb for any jockey, male or female, is to ride in the Kentucky Derby®.
It's the biggest race in the American thoroughbred season and only a handful of women have ever competed in it. 
Here are the six women that have ridden in the Kentucky Derby:

Women in Kentucky Derby

Diane Crump

Someone always has to be first.

In 1970, Diane Crump became the first female jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby after she already was known for being the first woman to ride in a sanctioned race. She rode a horse named Fathom in the Derby, placing in 15th. While ridiculed at the time for her gender, she is now considered a trailblazer within the sport. 

Crump raced for 15 more years, earning 230 victories before she retired from the sport in 1985. Upon retirement, Crump worked as a trainer for the subsequent years. 

Patti "P.J." Cooksey

The second woman to ever compete in the Kentucky Derby also holds a piece of history all to herself. Patti Cooksey became the first woman to ever ride in the Preakness Stakes, where she finished sixth in 1985. 

But before she took her talents to the Preakness, Cooksey proved that Crump's performance years earlier wasn't just a fluke. Cooksey competed in the 1984 Kentucky Derby, finishing 11th on So Vague. 

Andrea Seefeldt

Andrea Seefeldt had a very successful career as a jockey, and also claims to have seen the sport transform during her time. 

While the sport was still adjusting to women jockeys taking the reigns in the early '80's, Seefeldt says that she witnessed the changing of the social tides in the late '80's and early 90's within horseracing. 

For Seedfeldt, this culminated in her becoming the third woman to compete in the Kentucky Derby. She rode in the 1991 Derby on the back of Forty Something, but finished the lowest of any woman jockey — 16th.

Julie Krone

Julie Krone is one of only two women to compete in the Kentucky Derby twice. 

Her first go at the 'Run for the Roses' came in 1992 when she rode Ecstatic Ride to 14th place.

She got a stab at the Derby once again in 1995. Krone fared better the second time around as she finished 11th on the back of Suave Prospect. 

But the story of Krone's career is highlighted by her conquest at the Belmont Stakes in 1993. Krone became the first woman to ever win a Triple Crown race when she rode Colonial Affair to victory at Belmont Park. 

Rosemary Homeister

While Rosemary Homeister was the fifth woman to race in the Kentucky Derby, she will go down for another accolade — in 1992, Homeister was named the first woman jockey to win the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in the sport's history. 

As far as her Derby performance goes, it was fairly lackluster. Homeister rode Supah Blitz to 13th place in the 2003 Derby. 

Rosie Napravnik

Rosie Napravnik is the most recent, and successful, woman to ever compete in the Kentucky Derby. Like Krone, Napravnik is famous for competing in the Derby twice (2011 & 2013). 

She also has is the most successful woman to ever compete in the Derby, finishing ninth and fifth in her respective years. 

History is being made every year at the Kentucky Derby. If you want to be a part of it, check out our...

Churchill Downs

Official Ticket Packages for the Kentucky Derby

Securing access to the Kentucky Derby is just a few clicks away with an Official Ticket Package from Derby Experiences. Choose from any of our package offerings to ensure that you'll have the ultimate experience at Churchill Downs next year! 

Derby Official Ticket Packages