Bill Shoemaker Remembered (Part Two)

Hall of Fame jockey Jorge Velasquez:

"I had the pleasure to ride with him in New York and when I went to California. He was just a classic kind of guy. He was the guy you could learn from. He was a gentleman, a credit to this sport and a complete rider. 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. He had those small, soft hand and he could make any horse settle. He had the best hands of any rider. It is a shame that he is gone."

Former jockey, trainer and retired steward Bill Boland:

"We had the `bug' together out in California in late 1949-'50 and he was second-leading rider and I was fourth or something. He was a great guy and it was a pleasure to ride with him. He was a real practical joker. One time, we were heading into the (New York) City at the height of rush hour, and he reached over and turned the key off in the ignition. I almost went off the road. Another time, he sent a washer and dyer to my house. The guy showed up with the washer and dyer and I said, `I didn't order this.' We went back and forth and finally I realized that Shoemaker had sent it. But he was a great rider. He had those great hands, a lot of self-confidence and he had a good head on his shoulders."

Hall of Fame jockey "Gentleman" John L. Rotz:

"I think of all the races I ever won, the Camel at Bowie stands out to me because it was my first and only time on Mongo and Shoemaker was on Gun Bow and I beat him a nose. If you were a jockey, anytime you beat Shoemaker by a nose in a stakes race, it was going to be a good day.

"I think the greatest quality Shoemaker had as a jockey was how he handled pressure. Now, I don't know if pressure didn't affect him, if he hid it, whatever. But I always said that when he walked back to the jockeys' quarters after winning the Kentucky Derby, you couldn't tell if he won or was beaten a nose. He was also a great athlete, whether it was riding a horse, playing golf, shooting free throws, it didn't matter. Anything a man his size could do, he could do and do it better.

"In terms of his importance to the game, Bill Shoemaker was certainly on the same level as Arcaro and., in many ways, surpassed him. He was a true ambassador to the sport. He liked to have a good time, but he took racing seriously. His skill as a jockey was unmatched. Racing has truly lost a giant."

Hall of Fame jockey Manny Ycaza:

"I first met `Shoe' when I went to California in 1954. I was a 16-year-old apprentice, and he was already one of the top riders out there. So, I knew of him but I really didn't know him. When I came back to Del Mar in 1957, I came to know him more, mostly on a professional basis.

"The outstanding thing about `Shoe' as a jockey was he did things without effort. Like Eddie Arcaro could move a horse up, but he had to work hard at it. With `Shoe,' it looked so easy. A lot of times, if he had a lot of horse at the quarter-pole, instead of opening up, he would stay next to you. The, he would look over and say something like, `See you later,' and he would be gone. When I rode Ridan and beat me in the (1962) Travers with Jaipur, I told him, `I think I got you.' He said, `I think you did, too.' Then, they put him up. But we went back and forth like that. In the (1967 Washington D.C. International at Laurel), I was on Fort Marcy and he was on Damascus and pulled that `See you later,' thing again. Only this time, I got up and got really down on my horse and got there at the wire. I told him `I nailed you.' He said, `I don't think so,' but my horse won by a nose. My condolences go out to his family. He was one of the greatest."

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