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Willie Shoemaker

Willie ShoemakerAKA William Lee Shoemaker

Born: 19-Aug-1931
Birthplace: Fabens, TX
Died: 12-Oct-2003
Location of death: San Marino, CA
Cause of death: Natural Causes
Remains: Cremated

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Jockey

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Greatest 20th century jockey

Perhaps the greatest jockey of the 20th century, with a career spanning from 1949 to 1990, encompassing 8,833 victories with winnings over $123 million. As an adult he weighed 98 pounds. Shoemaker won the Kentucky Derby four times -- Swaps (1955), Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965) and Ferdinand (1986); the Preakness Stakes twice -- Candy Spots (1963) and Damascus (1967); and the Belmost Stakes five times -- Gallant Man (1957), Sword Dancer (1959), Jaipur (1962), Damascus (1967) and Avatar (1975). The 1991 "Arlington Million" race saw him win the first million-dollar stakes atop John Henry. His winnings totalled $2M annually since the mid 1950s. Willie's victory record was surpassed in 1999 by fellow jockey Laffit Pincay. After retirement from jockeying he became a horse trainer, retiring from that in 1997. In San Dimas, California on 8 April 1991 Shoemaker was paralyzed from the neck down in a drunk driving accident (in which he was the drunk). Because he was the only one injured and considering the severity of his injuries, the Los Angeles County District Attorney declined to press charges. Shoemaker died of natural causes in 2003.

Father: Bebe Shoemaker
Mother: (later Mrs. Elmore Call)
Wife: Virginia McLaughlin (m. 1950, div. 1960)
Wife: Bessie May Masterson (m. 29-Nov-1961)
Wife: Cindy (div. 1994)

    High School: (dropped out, age 15)

    George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award 1951
    Racing Hall of Fame 1958
    Texas Sports Hall of Fame 1965
    Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame 2003
    Driving While Intoxicated San Dimas, CA (8-Apr-1991), no charges filed

Author of books:
The Shoe: Willie Shoemaker's Illustrated Book of Racing (1976, sports, with Dan Smith)

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