Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker died in his sleep Sunday at his home near the Santa Anita racetrack in California. He was 72.
Shoemaker, who had been paralyzed from the neck down since a car accident in 1991, racked up the second-highest number of victories in thoroughbred racing history. The 1.5 meter tall jockey was known as "The Shoe" throughout his 41 year career, and won 8,883 victories. In 1986 at age of 54, he became the oldest jockey to win a Kentucky Derby. He guided the horse Ferdinand along a small opening on the rail in a ride considered one of the greatest ever.
His last race came on February 3, 1990. A crowd of 64,573 showed up at Santa Anita as he rode his mount, Patchy Groundfrog, to a fourth place finish in a nationally televised race. Shoemaker rode in a record 40,350 races. He is survived by his former wife and only child, Amanda.