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THE SHOE: REFLECTIONS ON A LEGEND : Out of the Saddle but Not Out of Friends

February 01, 1990

What other jockeys say about Bill Shoemaker:


"Everybody that has had the opportunity to ride with him for any length of time is very lucky. He does some unbelievable things on a horse. The thing that sticks out is how little he does on a horse and how much response he gets. He sure can convince a rider who is more aggressive that a great deal of finesse can win races, too.

"I was always impressed with the way he dealt with the public and the media. The guy's always being bugged for interviews and always granting them and he's always being asked for autographs and always giving them. He never tells anybody to take a hike. Out and out, he's just a great asset for the sport.

"He's had to take an awful lot of grief and verbal abuse during various periods of his career, but he's handled it with flying colors. It's taken an awful lot of patience and self-control. I've learned a great deal from watching him. I think he's going to do well as a trainer and I hope I can ride for him."


"He's the kind of guy who could very easily be my dad. He's a super person. He probably knows more than any jockey will ever know. In fact, he's probably forgotten more than any jockey will ever know.

"His mental outlook is amazing. He's always the same, day in, day out, win or lose. He's pretty happy-go-lucky and always on an even keel. I think he's going to be a very successful trainer."


"I don't think you'll get anyone to say a negative thing about Bill. He's a great person and a gentleman wherever he goes. You couldn't ask for a nicer fellow.

"He's always had a good attitude about everything and I don't think you'll ever see another one like him. He was talented, smart and aggressive. He had good hands, a good head and a tremendous feel for a horse. I've learned a lot watching him the last 11 years. He's a remarkable man."


"Shoe's always been my idol and he still is. Before I left Chile and came to the United States, I used to dream about riding next to him. When I was in Florida in 1966, I was able to beat him in a race. I was so excited I ordered a whole bunch of pictures and sent them back home.

"He's one of the greatest--not just as a rider but as a person. The days he's not going, in the (jockey's) room something's missing. It's going to be different not having him around. He never changed and he never complained. He had a great attitude and that made him a champion."


"He's a nice person and he definitely set the tone in the jockey's room. He kept peace among the riders a lot of the time and the camaraderie we have now is reflective of him and is the way it's supposed to be. He's a phenomenon."


"The first time I met Bill was when he came to New York and rode in the Suburban Handicap. He came into the room and was right in my corner with the same valet and I was thrilled to death.

"He had on sneakers, a pair of blue jeans and a Levi's jacket and I didn't know for sure if it was him or not. From all you read about him, he was a living legend, and, here he was, so down to earth. I'd never met him before, but he shook my hand and said, 'Hi, Robbie, how you doing?' I thought, 'Wow! He even knew my name.

"He was a super rider and I wish I could have ridden with him a little more. Maybe I'll get to ride for him."


"I've learned so much watching and talking to Bill. The way he could get horses to relax, he was just a master. He was a master of riding and of life. He was a super person, always so positive. He didn't let anything bother him and always seemed like he was happy to be here. He's always been my idol and always will be. Just watching him ride is an honor."


"He never lost his composure and stayed on an even keel all the time. His hands were incredible and he had tremendous confidence. . . . If horses didn't win for him, they couldn't win.

"You couldn't find a better guy. He could be with the President of the United States, and if he saw you, he'll always say hello."


"All the riders respect him and that's the most important thing. He'll always be remembered for his greatness and the way he conducted himself all through his career."

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