Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bill Shoemaker Gets Win 7,000

On March 14, 1976, Jockey Bill Shoemaker wins his 7,000th race.

Shoemaker’s career as a jockey began in his teenage years, with his first professional ride on March 19, 1949. 

Bill Shoemaker in 1976 after winning his 7,000th race.

The first of his eventual 8,833 career victories came a month later, on April 20, aboard a racer named Shafter V, at the Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California.

In 1951, he won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. At the age of 19, he was making so much money (as much as $2,500 each week) that Los Angeles Superior Court appointed attorney Horace Hahn as his guardian, with the consent of his parents.

Thirty-years later he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States.

Shoemaker won 11 Triple Crown races during his career, spanning four different decades, 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).

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. Shoemaker was involved in a solo drunk-driving car accident on April 8, 1991, in San Dimas, California, when he rolled over the Bronco II he was driving. The accident left him paralyzed from the neck down, and he thereafter used a wheelchair. Shoemaker sued Ford and Ford settled for US$1,000,000. 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 was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1958. Andy Warhol immortalized him as part of a series of protraits in the mid-1970s.