Shoe Was the Favorite in More Ways Than One
The passing of Bill Shoemaker reminded me of the ultimate nature of the betting public whenever somebody or something disappoints us.
Toward the end of his career when he was riding mostly chalk horses and only the best mounts at Santa Anita, the patrons, much to my chagrin, would boo the Shoe whenever his mount finished second or worse.
This was the “tribute” for a jock who had won more races than any other in history, had never been set down for a racing violation during a 30-year career, had weighed in at no more than 98 pounds during all of that highly competitive riding career, and against whom no one ever heard a contrary word about his unblemished character.
It rankled and embarrassed me every time I heard those boos because I knew that Shoemaker did not deserve them.
He is a legend that might never come again.
Charles R. Barr
Bill Shoemaker may well be the greatest jockey of all time. However, he will always be remembered by me as a foolish and irresponsible man.
In 1991, Shoemaker chose to drive while intoxicated, fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the side of the freeway rolling his car down an embankment. Unfortunately, he was paralyzed from the neck down and was not prosecuted for DUI because of the severity of his injuries.
Shoemaker then filed lawsuits against Ford Motor Co. (for manufacturing his car), the state of California (for not having a guardrail to stop his car) and the doctors and nurses at the hospital (for saving his life). He extorted $2.5 million from Ford in a settlement agreement.
Shoemaker could have impressed us all by taking responsibility for driving while intoxicated.
One did not have to be a racing fan to know a thoroughbred. Shoe was one.