Coming a long way: women in horse racing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Coming a long way: women in horse racing

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Rosie Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks aboard Untapable Friday. Women are common in horse racing nowadays, but it hasn't always been that way.

Women have come a long way in the sport of horse racing in the past 50 years. The dangerous sport of horse racing had always been a man's world until a woman worked her way into a saddle. Diane Crump rode Fathom in the 96th running of the Kentucky Derby

Some people thought Crump and other female jockeys were a passing fad.

"You'll find some quotes, initially, from folks that thought female jockeys was just a fad, maybe some didn't take it seriously, some thought it would go away," said Chris Goodlet with the Kentucky Derby Museum.

That has not been the case.

"Of the 750 jockeys that are licensed according to the Jockeys Guild, only about 75 are female -- but some of them are very prolific," Goodlet said.

Crump was the first of only six women to ride in the Kentucky Derby.

PJ Cooksey was right behind her. She credits Crump for blazing the trail for the female jockeys after her.

"Those women were the pioneers, Cooksey said. "They broke down the barriers for me. I like to say that I paved the trails and made them smoother for for the women behind me."

Cooksey has a 30-year career behind her. She was in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby 30 years ago.

"Thirty years, wow," Cooksey said. "That's amazing. I didn't realize that."

She talks about the race like it was yesterday, and remembers thinking that she didn't plan to win the Derby.

"When you turn for home, you hear this big sound when the crowd starts cheering, it just hits you in the face.

Now Cooksey is standing on the sidelines, but she's cheering on the next generation.

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