Above: Barbara Jo Rubin with Angel Cordero.

ON THIS DATE in 1969, nineteen-year-old Barbara Jo Rubin rode a horse named Cohesian to a half-length victory at the Charles Town Races track in West Virginia to become the first woman to win a horseracing event against men at a nationally recognized racetrack.

For Rubin, competing with the boys wasn’t easy. One month earlier, male riders at Florida’s Tropical Park Race Track launched a boycott, saying they wouldn’t ride if she were allowed to compete. Someone even threw a brick through the window of a trailer she was using for a changing room. Rubin withdrew from that race.

Sexism at the track had no effect on Rubin, who had faced a bigger obstacle when she contracted polio as a child. When spectators booed her at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, she shrugged it off, telling Newsday, “Somebody told me to go home and cook spaghetti. I don’t pay any attention. They boo other people.”

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