I was delighted to read that award-winning filmmaker Katherine Brooks (“Loving Annabelle,” 2006, and “Waking Madison,” 2009) is making a film based on legendary female jockey Julie Krone. The film is called “Freak,” which refers to a racing term for horses who win over and over, even when they shouldn’t.
When it comes to horses, Krone is indeed a freak of nature. The film is an adaptation of her autobiography, “Riding for My Life”, which chronicles her rise to fame and unparalleled success as a jockey. A vivid look at the world of horse racing, “Freak” aims to explore one woman’s battle against sexual inequality in a classic tale of an underdog’s passage toward victory.
Dubbed the winningest female jockey in history, Krone is the only woman to be inducted into thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame. She won 3,704 professional races, totaling over $90 million in prize money.
Krone is still the only woman to have won a Triple Crown race, flying across the finish line atop Colonial Affair in the 125th running of the Belmont Stakes in 1993. She’s also the only woman to ever compete at Belmont, where she raced on five occasions.
To achieve success, however, Krone had to overcome fierce obstacles. During her career, Krone faced intense chauvinism in additon to suffering major injuries, including six fractures in her vertebrae, broken hands and cracked ribs.
For a long time, women didn’t even have the option of competing professionally because they weren’t legally allowed to ride at a track. It wasn’t until 1968 that women were finally allowed to race, but they were prevented from doing so when male jockeys threatened to boycott the races.
Following in the footsteps of a handful of women before her, including Diana Crump who became the first woman to race professionally, Krone blazed her way to success. It wasn’t easy making a mark in the male-dominated “Sport of Kings” and for a long time no one took the petite (4′ 11”) blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl seriously.
When a guy slashed Krone’s ear with a whip, she broke his nose. When people called her names, she looked the other way. To the world, she was fearless. But inside, she was alone. The hardship fueled her desire to succeed even more. “Freak” is Krone’s heartfelt story.
According to IMDB, Brooks was initially against adapting Freak because she is a PETA member and spent much of her life rescuing injured horses off the track. It wasn’t until she met Krone and read her auto-biography, that she felt she could focus more on the intimate struggles of the character than the sport of racing. This is clearly a multi-layered story which promises lots of action and drama.
“Freak”, scheduled to shoot on location in New York and Louisiana, is being produced by Sophie Watts of Gravity Films with an anticipated release around spring 2011. You can follow the progress via the film’s Facebook page or Twitter.