John Shear

John Shear

Courtesy Santa Anita

Santa Anita to Honor Paddock Hero Shear

Paddock guard shielded 6-year-old girl from runaway horse March 12.

Santa Anita Park will honor its heroic 90-year-old paddock guard John Shear Oct. 1, as the Southern California track will name a race “The John Shear Hero Purse.”

The race will include a winner’s circle ceremony in which Shear will be recognized for his selfless act of heroism earlier this year on March 12, when he shielded a 6-year-old girl from a runaway horse prior to the third race just outside of the track’s walking ring.

“This is going to be a proud moment for all of us here at Santa Anita,” said Santa Anita president George Haines. “John is a one in a million type of person and he’s made an amazing recovery from what could have been a catastrophic accident. This was a truly amazing act of heroism and he never thought twice about it—he just reacted instinctively to protect the little girl.

Shear, who was taken by ambulance to Huntington Memorial Hospital immediately following the accident, sustained several injuries, including a fractured pelvis and he lost a considerable amount of blood due to internal bleeding.

His son, Michael, has attributed his father’s speedy recovery to diet and a vigorous lifestyle.

“My dad has always prided himself on eating well and staying physically fit and there’s no doubt this has helped him immensely.”

Employed seasonally at Santa Anita since Dec. 23, 1961, Shear is a native of England and is a former rider and trainer.

Oct. 1 is “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Day” at Santa Anita, with four grade I stakes highlighting an 11-race card.