Wed, Oct 15, 2003 - Page 19 News List

Billy Shoemaker to be remembered at Santa Anita track


Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker will be honored at a public memorial service in the winner's circle at Santa Anita racetrack on Oct. 21.

The track will open its grandstand for the ceremony, to be held on a non-racing day during the week of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Shoemaker died in his sleep Sunday at his San Marino home, a few kilometers from the track. He was 72.

"It's been incredible, the kindness that has come out from so many friends and family and fans. He was well-deserving of it," said Cindy, the late jockey's ex-wife and mother of his only child, Amanda.

Amanda Shoemaker, 23, trains show horses in Portola Valley, California, near San Francisco.

Shoemaker requested no funeral service and he will be cremated.

Fellow jockeys reminisced about Shoemaker on Monday. They recalled his sense of humor, immense talent and soft touch on the reins.

"He was strong in all areas of riding, but I always admired his ability to take a horse back, especially one that was tough to rate," Hall of Fame jockey Jorge Velasquez said. "He had those small, soft hands and he could make any horse settle. He had the best hands of any rider. It is a shame that he is gone."

Shoemaker was an avid golfer who often played with his fellow riders, and being 1.49 meters didn't hurt his game.

"Here was this little guy who would hit it straight 200 yards and then get on the green with his next shot," Hall of Fame jockey Walter Blum said. "He was also a great kidder, but he was all business when he got on the track."

Retired Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr. marveled at how the 45kg Shoemaker could command 495kg racehorses.

"With the little hands that he had and the size that he had, it was amazing to me how he could control a horse to do what he wants," he said. "His asset was he could put a horse anywhere he wanted. That's probably what made him so great."

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