1. Florida

Fifty years ago, an Oldsmar woman became the first professional female jockey

Men tried to boycott, but the race went on and so did her career — for 30 years.
On Feb. 7, 1969, Oldsmar's Diane Crump became the first professional woman jockey in U.S. history.
Published Feb. 7
Updated Feb. 7

They let the woman ride, so the men took “sick.”

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 7, 1969, Diane Crump became the first woman in the U.S. to race as a professional jockey when she finished 10-of-12 in the seventh race at Hialeah Park astride her mount Bridle ‘N Bit.

A 1969 Times story credits Diane Crump with breaking horse racing's sex barrier. [Times Files]

Though she lost the race, she won a victory for women riders across the country. No longer would women just be the exercise girls, the people who kept the riders’ mounts in shape with solo trips around the track. Crump, who lived and trained in Oldsmar, had been an exercise girl for six years before her first pro race at age 20. A few weeks later, she won her first race at her home track Florida Downs, now known as Tampa Bay Downs.

The field of 12 Crump raced against was made largely of substitute riders. According to a Times article from the day after the race, only five men agreed to ride. Seven others used doctors’ appointments and other excuses to get out of racing.

It had been a years-long struggle for women riders. It was only after the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that women were even able to get temporary jockey licenses. However, to get a permanent one they had to compete in a race.

Not even the Jockey’s Guild director supported women riders, saying in a 1968 statement that “there are times when his (a jockey’s) life may hinge on the cool judgment and skill of a fellow jockey. A woman’s emotional makeup might betray her at a time like that. It could also imperil the lives of the other jockeys, not to mention her own.”

Jockey Diane Crump,center,takes a quick peek at jockey Ronnie Behrens atop Walter Mitty after the horses broke for the fourth race Hialeah in 1969. [Times files]

Sitting it out

When Barbara Jo Rubin, a then 19-year-old exercise girl from Miami, qualified for a race at Tropical Park in January 1969, 13 jockeys refused to ride. The Florida State Racing Commission was called on to investigate. Owner-trainer Mary Keim has said she’d call on Crump for the Hialeah race if the commission would clear the way.

Even with a pass to race, Crump didn’t have an easy time. Her horse, Merr E Indian, didn’t qualify for the race. But Catherine Calumet, wife of Brindle ‘N Bit’s owner-trainer Tom Calumet, told her husband to name Crump as the rider or she’d get another trainer.

A long way to the track

Crump had to get an armed escort to the track and was met with boos and jeers as she readied to race. Some even shouted that she belonged in the kitchen, not the track. Even some newspapers weren’t kind, describing her as a “slip of a lass” and doubting her ability to race. Other women were called “girl riders” or “jockettes.”

Diane Crump welcomes a fellow woman rider in 1969. [Times files]
Diane Crump, rides in 1998, nearly 30 years after becoming the first professional woman jockey.

Career for the ages

Nevertheless, she persisted, finishing the race to cheers and going on to have a 30-year career.

Fifteen months after her first race, Crump would break another barrier in becoming the first woman to compete in the Kentucky Derby, an honor only five other women have achieved in the 49 years since. Throughout her career, Crump would have more than 1,600 starts and 228 wins, earning nearly $1.3 million, according to Now 70, Crump has a private horse sales business in Virginia.

Barriers gone, but numbers stalled

Though it’s been 50 years since Crump broke through horse racing’s glass stable, the sport remains heavily dominated by males. The Jockey’s Guild says women riders now only make up about 8 percent of its membership in the U.S. But now, thanks to Crump and other pioneering women like Rubin, Penny Ann Early and Kathy Kushner, women are now as free to take to the track as any man.


  1. AP file photo of then Gov. and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
    DeSantis, Rick Scott and other Republicans have taken a strong stance on Saudi Arabia in recent days. President Donald Trump?
  2. FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File) MELISSA NELSON  |  AP
    The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.
  3. Staci Plonsky holds art from her autistic son, A.J. Plonsky, depicting his memory of being taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility under Florida's Baker Act law. JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times
    A mental health law is being used more frequently across Florida on children who are not mentally ill.
  4. Mohammed "Mo" Haitham, 19, was a track star at Lakewood High School. He was one of the victims of the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting on Friday, according to his mother and Lakewood High principal Erin Savage. CARRY PRATT  |  Photo by Carrie Pratt
    Mohammed Haitham just finished boot camp and had been reassigned to Pensacola.
  5. This photo taken from video provided by WEAR-TV shows emergency responders near the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla., Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.  The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response.   (WEAR-TV via AP) AP
    Family members on Saturday identified one of the victims as a 23-year-old recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who alerted first responders to where the shooter was even after he had been shot...
  6. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  7. In this Dec. 5 photo authorities investigate the scene of a shooting in Miramar, Fla. The FBI says several people, including a UPS driver, were killed after robbers stole the driver’s truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy South Florida intersection during rush hour. (Taimy Alvarez/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP) TAIMY ALVAREZ  |  AP
    A lawyer for the union where Rick Cutshaw worked said Cutshaw had just left his office before being killed. “He was going home.”
  8. Congressional aides maneuver a Christmas tree to the office of Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, on Capitol Hill earlier this month. No word on whether they washed it first, but experts say hosing down a live tree can be a good way to keep allergens from causing respiratory problems during the holiday season. J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    Hosing off a live tree or wiping off an artificial one are two ways to keep allergens at bay during the holidays.
  9. Motorists head north of Key Largo on U.S. 1, in anticipation of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6, 2017.  Keys officials announced a mandatory evacuation Wednesday for visitors, with residents being told to leave the next day. [Associated Press]
    Elevating less than 3 miles of Old State Road 4A by 2025 could cost $75 million.
  10. Frank Ordonez was the UPS driver who was taken hostage by two armed robbers and later killed during a shootout with police in Miramar Thursday. Facebook
    Frank Ordonez, was a father to two young girls and had worked with UPS for five years.