Having been born a year before Citation won the last Triple Crown of Horse Racing (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) before the great big red horse Secretariate won in 1978….Bone Daddy grew up in a house where the entire family….Pops, Granny Jean, Lil Wally, Bone Daddy and Runt…. were all gathered around the black and white television with “rabbit ears” antenna on the 1st Saturday in May each year to watch the Kentucky Derby during the decade of the 1950’s…..for this was a time when no one in the family knew any of the horses in the Derby….but because they had followed the Triple Crown of Horse Racing for long enough to know the jockeys better….so they would draw numbers to see who got to choose which jockey that they wanted to win that year’s Derby….and if their jockey won the race…..that family member would win a week’s worth of choosing another family member to help them do their daily chores around the house….so, this was a big deal….while BD can still remember some of the winning jockeys from this time in his life like Johnny Longden (winner of 5,000 races)….Eddie Arcaro (only jockey to win 2 x Triple Crown)…..Willie Shoemaker (United States Champion Jockey by wins in
1950, 1953, 1954, 1958 and 1959)…..along with Derby winners like Bill Boland (1950), Ismael Valenzuela (1958), David Erb (1956), Conn McCreary (1951), Hank Moreno (1953) and Raymond York (1954)….as Bill Shoemaker was the only jockey who was chosen each and every year throughout the 1950’s….so, that is why I have chosen to write this story “Hats Off To Willie The Shoe”.
Horse Racing – 1948 To 1990 – Special Film – “Nice Guys Finish First” – The Story of Bill Shoemaker
Bill Shoemaker (August 19, 1931 – October 12, 2003) was an American jockey…..who for 29 years held the world record for total professional victories by a jockey. Referred to as “Willie” and “The Shoe”, William Lee Shoemaker was born in the town of Fabens, Texas…..who at 38 ounces (1.1 kg), was so small at birth that he was not expected to survive the night….while being put in a shoe box in the oven to stay warm, he survived, but remained small when growing to 4 feet 10 inches (1.47m) and weighing 91 pounds (41 kg). His diminutive size proved an asset as he went on to become a giant in thoroughbred horse racing, despite dropping out of El Monte High School in El Monte, California.
Horse Racing – 1948 To 1990 – Special Highlights – Bill Shoemaker’s Phenomenal Record In The Handicap At Santa Anita Park
Shoemaker’s career as a jockey began in his teenage years, with his first professional ride on March 19, 1949….when the 1st of his eventual 8,833 career victories came a month later, on April 20, aboard Shafter V, at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California…..then 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) the Los Angeles Superior Court appointed attorney Horace Hahn as his guardian, with the consent of his parents.
News & Horse Racing – 1951 – Golden Gate Fields Race Highlights – Willie Shoemaker’s 1st Of 8833 Ultimate Victories
Thirty years later, he won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey in the United States….as “Willie The Shoe” 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)