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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 18:51 GMT 19:51 UK
Racing mourns Shoemaker
Bill Shoemaker
Legendary American jockey Willie Shoemaker has died at the age of 72.

Shoemaker, who was paralysed from the neck down after a 1991 car accident, died in his sleep at his home near Santa Anita racetrack.

In his 42 years in the saddle, "The Shoe" guided 8,833 horses to victory - the second largest number of winners in thoroughbred racing history.

The record was only beaten by Laffit Pincay Jr in 1999.

Shoemaker will also be remembered for his triumph on Ferdinand in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, when aged 54 he became the oldest winner of the race.

The American retired in 1990 and went on to pursue a successful career in training where he schooled 90 winners.

Shoemaker recorded his first victory in 1949 on Shafter V at Golden Gate Fields near San Franciso at the age of 17.

He quickly established himself as a leading jockey, becoming the US champion jockey five times between 1951-61.

SHOEMAKER FACTS
Born: 19/08/1931 in Texas
First winner: Shafter V in 1949
Last winner: Beau Genius in 1990
Honours: 8,833 winners as a jockey, 90 as a trainer
Did you know? He rode Lucky Debonair in a tuxedo at night - 12 hours before guiding her to victory in the Kentucky Derby
The diminutive Texan also enjoyed success in the prestigious Triple Crown series of races, winning the Kentucky Derby 4 times, the Belmont 5 times and the Preakness twice.

When Shoemaker stepped down from the saddle he embarked on a farewell tour of racecourses around the world.

His last victory came on American shores on board Beau Genius at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

"It's been 40 years," Shoemaker commented at the time. "That's long enough. It's time to do something else."

That "something else" turned out to be training horses on the tracks of Southern California and Shoemaker set about his task with gusto.

Shoemaker continued training horses until his retirement in 1997, by that time he had earnt over $3.5m in prize money - almost a third of his total winnings from four decades spent in the saddle.




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