Here is a interview with the 1st female rider ever to ride in a thoroughbred race!!! I have to credit a guy named Melman from the Pace Advantage Message Board who hooked me up with Diane's web site and email address. Melman me and Jim can't thank you enough. The year was 1969. The place was the recently closed Hialeah Park. Diane Crump was going to be the first female jockey ever to ride in a thoroughbred race. This is an interview we are proud to have on our pages. Diane set the tone for the future of female jockeys. We hope you enjoy this email chat we did with Diane. She also is still involved in the business and you can check her web site out after you read this interview. Link is at the bottom so sit back and think back to many years ago.
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
DC: I was born in Milford, Connecticut and moved to Florida when I was 12. I grew up in Oldsmar close to the track.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters? How did you get involved in horse racing and what did you think of race tracks at the time?
DC: I have twin brothers and one sister. As a kid I started working on a thoroughbred horse farm and just fell in love with it. When the young horses that I was working with were shipped to the track, I would go over and help out.
FOTH: I would imagine you exercised horses before you decided to become a jockey. What was the reaction you got from horseman when you told them you were going to become a jockey?
DC: I started breaking yearlings on the farm and then started getting on the young horses whey they went to the track. From that I learned to gallop and absolutely loved it! Everyone that I galloped for was excited for me since they knew how much I loved riding.
FOTH: When you started riding, what kind of accomodations (jockey's room) did the tracks have for female riders?
DC: When I started riding they used the closest lady's room or the HBPA office or any empty room that was reasonably close to the jock's room.
FOTH: Who were some jockeys you admired when starting out? Did any of them give you any advice?
DC: Angel Cordero, Craig Perret and Danny Gargen were about the only ones that were even remotely nice to me and they did give me some kindly advice.
FOTH: How do you see the current affairs for woman in racing? Do you think that female jockeys have reached the level of respect that they deserve?
DC: I believe that woman riders have a lot more opportunities to prove themselves than they did 30 years ago. We still have a long way to go, but at least it's a reasonable start. Certainly some of the women riders have gained a good measure of respect and of course Julie Krone making the Hall of Fame was great.
FOTH: Are you called or approached by any current female jockeys in the sport in search of your experience and wisdom about the sport?
DC: From time to time aspiring women jockeys have called or e-mailed for advice or encouragement, which I always answer.
FOTH: Do you follow the progress of current female jockeys? Which ones riding today impress you the most?
DC: I don't follow them that closely as I'm very busy with business. I do like to keep up to some degree with the women that are doing well at the various tracks and am always pleased to see any them winning races!
FOTH: How long did you ride? What were some of the tracks where you rode?
DC: I rode regularly from 1969 through '85. I then ran the training barn at Calumet for about 3 years. I went on my own training horses and in '92 started back riding the horses that I trained and continued riding races until 3 1/2 years ago. I rode at Churchill, Keeneland Turfway, Ellis Park, Hialeah, Gulfstream, Calder, The Meadowlands, Monmouth, Saratoga, Tampa Bay Downs, Laurel and Pimlico and pretty much everywhere on the east coast. I've ridden at Woodbine, El Commandente in Puerto Rico, Caliente in Mexico and Caracas, Venezuela.
FOTH: I know from reading a bit on your web site that you had several problems early on. You even had a police escort! Can you go into a bit at what went on? Did it get easier for you to ride as time went on? How did you feel when you got the first ride under your belt so to speak?
DC: It was a bit rough to start with and you know, people don't like change! But it felt absolutely wonderful to get to ride a race and I truly loved it all my life. It was a great experience getting to live my dream.
FOTH: Did you get into many arguments with many male jockeys?
DC: I did not get in many arguments as I pretty much just did my job and minded my own business.
FOTH: I know there is a story about when you went to ride in Puerto Rico. Don't tell the whole story (make em read it on your site he he) but give us a little teaser about what went on that day.
DC: The first time I was asked to ride in Puerto Rico I was in a match race with the leading rider. We were head and head around the first turn and my horse pulled about 3/4 of a length ahead and the Puerto Rican was holding on to my saddle cloth and let my horse carry him for about 1/4 of a mile. Then he came back head and head and pulled my stirrup leather and knocked my foot out of the iron, then jerked on my rein as he got close to my horse's head. Through the stretch I cracked him with my stick but he wound up beating my by a length. When we pulled up and came back to unsaddle, the women in the crowd were throwing tomatoes at him and cussing him out!
FOTH: I can see from your web site your still involved in the sport. Tell the visitors what they will find when they go and vist it.
DC: My site has a bit of my history on it, but it is basically a real estate type company for horses with photos and detailed descriptions of the horses that I have for sale.
FOTH: You were the first woman ever to ride in the Kentucky Derby! Tell us what events led up to you riding in that race and describe what it is like riding in such a race.
DC: The Kentucky Derby is of course one of the greatest dreams a rider can have. All of the races and preparations for the Derby are like living in a dream world of excitement and expectation like none other.
FOTH: You have had some bad injuries over the years. Tell us about the ankle injury that kept you out for quite awhile and almost ended your carreer.
DC: In 1990, I was breaking a yearling that reared up and flipped over backwards breaking my ankle in 3 places, crushing my fibula and I had a compound fracture of the tibia. The doctor had to put a steel rod in my leg which stayed there for 7 years. It took close to 2 years to heal and 2 bone grafts.
FOTH: When did you decide to retire? Looking back now do you regret it at all? How hard was it for you to hang up your riding boots?
DC: I decided to hang up my tack 3 1/2 years ago as I was having chronic knee pain since I had 3 knee surgeries on each knee over the years and I was literally wearing my shoulders out as I had literally galloped horses consecutively for over 31 years. I have no regrets. I have always lived my dream. I did hate to stop riding but living with that much pain was getting tough.
FOTH: Where do you see the sport heaed in the coming years?
DC: I just pray that it can stay a sport that the every-day person can love and relate to, but it seems to be getting harder.
FOTH: Who do you feel is the best rider in the sport right now and the best horse you ever saw ride? Do you think today’s jockeys are better than your era so to speak? Any advice for somebody wanting to be a jockey?
DC: There are some great riders out there and in answer to the next question, as well, I think the very best are pretty close to my era. Look at Laffit Pincay, Pat Day, Earlie Fires, Jerry Bailey to name a few. I don't see any of the new ones any better than this group. All I can say to anyone aspiring to becoming a jockey, trainer, exercise rider or whatever area, just follow your dreams, trust in God and let your heart lead you and you will be true to yourself.
FOTH: Diane we both really appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. I hope everybody that has read this far will go visit your web site. Any last words?
DC: I wish you the very best...
www.dianecrump.com -- Visit Diane Crump's Website
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