WILLIE SHOEMAKER Biography - Famous Sports men and women


Biography » famous sports men and women » willie shoemaker


Name: Bill Shoemaker                                                                     
Born: 19 August 1931 Fabens, Texas, US                                                   
Died: 12 October 2003 (aged 72)                                                         
William Lee Shoemaker (August 19, 1931 – October 12, 2003) was an American             
Referred to as "Bill", "Willie," and "The Shoe", William Lee Shoemaker was born         
in the town of Fabens, Texas. At 2.5 pounds (1 kg), Shoemaker was so small at           
birth that he was not expected to survive the night. Put in a shoebox in the             
oven to stay warm, he survived, but remained small, growing to 4 feet 11 inches         
(1.50 m) and weighing only 95 pounds (43 kg). His diminutive size proved an             
asset as he went on to become a giant in thoroughbred horse racing.                     
His career as a jockey began in his teenage years, with his first professional           
ride on March 19, 1949. The first of his eventual 8,833 career victories came a         
month later, on April 20, aboard a racer named Shafter V. In 1951, he won the           
George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award and 30 years later the Eclipse Award for             
Outstanding Jockey in the United States.                                                 
Shoemaker won 11 Triple Crown races during his career, but the Crown itself             
eluded him. The breakdown of these wins is as follows:                                   
Kentucky Derby: Swaps (1955), Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965) and                 
Ferdinand (1986)                                                                         
Preakness Stakes: Candy Spots (1963) and Damascus (1967)                                 
Belmont Stakes: Gallant Man (1957), Sword Dancer (1959), Jaipur (1962), Damascus         
(1967) and Avatar (1975)                                                                 
Two of Shoemaker's most noted rides were at the Kentucky Derby. He lost the 1957         
Kentucky Derby, aboard the mount Gallant Man, when he stood up in the stirrups           
too soon, having misjudged the finish line. He and Gallant Man ended up                 
finishing second to Bill Hartack aboard Iron Liege. At the 1986 Kentucky Derby,         
Shoemaker became the oldest jockey ever to win the race (at age 54) aboard the           
18-1 outsider Ferdinand. The following year, he rode Ferdinand to a victory over         
Alysheba in the Breeders' Cup Classic to capture Horse of the Year honors.               
Shoemaker rode the popular California horse Silky Sullivan, about which he is           
quoted as saying: "You just had to let him run his race ... and if he decided to         
win it, you'd better hold on because you'd be moving faster than a train."               
The Los Angeles Times quoted Bill Shoemaker as saying that Spectacular Bid was           
the best he rode.                                                                       
When Shoemaker earned his 6,033rd victory in September 1970, he broke the record         
of jockey Johnny Longden. In 1999, Shoemaker's own record of 8,833 career               
victories was broken by Panamanian-born Laffit Pincay Jr.; the record is                 
currently held by Russell Baze.                                                         
Win number 8,833, Shoemaker's last, came at Gulfstream Park, Florida on January         
20, 1990 aboard Beau Genius. Two weeks later, on February 3, Shoemaker rode in           
his very last race as a jockey, at Santa Anita Park. He finished 4th, aboard a           
horse by the name of Patchy Groundfog. All told, Bill Shoemaker rode in a record         
40,350 races. In 1990, he was voted the Mike Venezia Memorial Award for "extraordinary   
sportsmanship and citizenship".                                                         
Soon after retiring as a jockey, Shoemaker returned to the track as a trainer,           
where he had modest success, training for such clients as Gulfstream magnate             
Allen Paulson and composer Burt Bacharach. A drunk-driving car accident on April         
8, 1991 left him paralyzed from the neck down and wheelchair-bound, but he               
continued to train racehorses until his retirement on Nov. 2, 1997. His final           
stats as a trainer were 90 wins from 714 starters and earnings of $3.7 million.         
Shoemaker sued Ford after the Bronco II he was driving rolled over near San             
Dimas, California and Ford settled for US$1,000,000.                                     
Shoemaker was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in