Down the Bridal Path
But Krone was determined not to miss a thing, and she did not become the world's most successful female jockey—winning nearly 3,000 races and about $500,000 annually—by taking it easy. Getting to Saratoga's First Baptist Church on time came down to a photo finish. She slid down from her last mount at the track around 5:30 p.m. and was due at the altar a mere two hours later. Yelling, "I gotta go!" she ran to the postrace weigh-in. Then she shed her blue silks, showered at the jockeys' quarters, hopped over a 4-foot fence and sped her Chevy Blazer to the couple's rented four-bedroom Saratoga Springs home, where her five bridesmaids helped her into her handwoven silk-and-satin wedding gown. "It was like an assembly line," says Krone. "They even colored my nails." By 10 minutes to 8, the 4'10", 96-lb. Krone was standing beside her 6'4", 210-lb. groom as Rev. Edward Hernandez, the chaplain at Florida's Gulfstream Park racetrack, administered the vows. Then the newlyweds climbed into a horse-drawn carriage bound for the estate of Marylou Vanderbilt Whitney, who was giving a reception for 350. Krone had begun riding the socialite breeder's horses in the late '80s, and, says Whitney, 69, "the minute Julie said she was going to marry Matt, I said, 'Well, I want to do it here.' "
The couple were off to anything but a galloping start when they met six years ago at the famed Saratoga track. Muzikar, a Saratoga native, was working as a track security guard during summer breaks from Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., where he was studying communications. "I thought she was a little snotty," says Muzikar, who currently works for Major League Baseball Productions, "and she thought I was a playboy." For Krone, who grew up on a horse farm in Eau Claire, Mich. (pop. 494) and began riding professionally at 17, horses remained the main event until her August 1993 racing accident at Saratoga. The near-fatal spill left her with a shattered right ankle, a bruised heart and a major change in priorities. "My lifeline was racing and winning," she told PEOPLE during her long and painful recovery. "Then suddenly it became my friends and fans. Thinking you don't need anyone, that's not real life." In March 1994, two months before Krone's comeback race, Muzikar, then a neophyte reporter for a local TV station, was assigned to interview her. This time, says Krone, "we were googly-eying each other." Two days before Christmas 1994, Matt presented Julie with a gold-and-diamond engagement ring, and she couldn't even say yes. "She just said, 'Uh-huh,' " he recalls, "because she was crying so hard." For Krone the proposal felt like winning the Triple Crown. "All the things it takes to make a relationship—consideration, dedication, admiration—Matt and I have for one another," she says.
They will have no honeymoon, though, until Krone takes a break from racing in December. After partying at the wedding reception until nearly 2 a.m., Krone was back at the track by 10:30 a.m. the next day to ride in six more races, again finishing in the money twice. Now that's a thoroughbred.
LORNA GRISBY in Saratoga Springs