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Willie Shoemaker

Early Challenges, Exceptional Talents, Chronology, Related Biography: Jockey Eddie Arcaro, Setting RecordsCONTACT INFORMATION


American jockey

In the unlikely role of jockey, Willie Shoemaker became known throughout the world during the course of a phenomenal career. After first entering the winner's circle in 1949, he went on to set record after record.

Willie Shoemaker

Among these, Shoemaker claimed the highest total purse money among riders ten times and for twenty-nine years had the most wins ever accumulated by a jockey. Known as "Shoe" and several other nicknames, he earned his fame on the racetrack and rarely drew attention to his life outside of racing. A quiet man with the reputation of outsmarting other riders and knowing how not to get in his horse's way during a race, he has been quick to draw attention to worthy rivals. During the 1970s, fame and personal problems reduced the jockey's appearances on the track and winning percentage, but he regained his old form as was evidenced by his Kentucky Derby win on Ferdinand in 1986. A 1991 single-car accident that turned Shoemaker into a quadriplegic is the saddest chapter in his life. However, the mental toughness he exhibited as a rider has given him the strength to fight for his own recovery and to help others who are paralyzed.


Address: Vincent Andrews Management, 315 S. Beverly Hills Dr., Suite 208, Beverly Hills, CA 90212-4310.

Sketch by Paula Pyzik Scott

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsHorse Racing