Bill Shoemaker (August 19, 1931 – October 12, 2003) was an American thoroughbred jockey….who held the world record for total professional jockey victories for 29 years after his retirement….as Shoemaker’s career as a jockey began in his teenage years….with his first professional ride on March 19, 1949….while the first of his eventual 8,833 career victories came a month later, on April 20, aboard Shafter V at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California….and by the time 1951 rolled around….he won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award….when at the age of 19….he was making so much money….as much as $2,500 each week….that the Los Angeles Superior Court appointed attorney Horace Hahn as his guardian, with the consent of his parents…. and then a mere thirty years later…..he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States.
Bill Shoemaker won eleven Triple Crown races during his career….which spanned four different decades….but the Triple 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)