Ferdinand (March 12, 1983 – 2002) was a Thoroughbred racehorse that won the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic. He was voted the 1987 Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year.
He entered stud in 1989 and was later sold to a breeding farm in Japan in 1994.
At the age of 19, Bill Shoemaker 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 thirty years later, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States…. as Willie The Shoe would win 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)
Two of Shoemaker’s most noted rides were in the Kentucky Derby….where he lost the 1957 Kentucky Derby aboard Gallant Man….when he stood up in the stirrups too soon after having misjudged the finish line….where Gallant Man finished second to Iron Liege, ridden by Bill Hartack. At the 1986 Kentucky Derby, Shoemaker became the oldest jockey ever to win the race (at age 54) aboard the 18-1 outsider Ferdinand….with the trophy presentation seen in this video herewith. The following year, he rode Ferdinand to a victory over Alysheba in the Breeders’ Cup Classic; Ferdinand later captured 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.” When Shoemaker earned his 6,033rd victory in September 1970….he broke jockey Johnny Longden’s record….then In 1999, Shoemaker’s own record of 8,833 career victories was broken by Panamanian-born Laffit Pincay Jr…..which is a record is currently held by Russell Baze.
Win number 8,833, Shoemaker’s last, came at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, on January 20, 1990 aboard Beau Genius. Two weeks later, on February 3, Shoemaker rode his last race on Patchy Groundfog, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California. He finished fourth, in front of a record crowd, to Eddie Delahoussaye, on Exemplary Leader. 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”.