Shoemaker honoured

Hall of Fame Jockey Bill Shoemaker was honoured at a public memorial service in the winner's circle at Santa Anita racetrack on October 21. The track opened its grandstand for the ceremony, held on a non-racing day during the week of the Breeder's Cup World Thoroughbred championships. Shoemaker died in his sleep on October 12 at his San Marino home, a few miles (kilometres) from the track. He was 72.

"It's been incredible, the kindness that has come out from so many friends and family and fans. He was well-deserving of it," said Cindy, the late jockey's ex-wife and mother of his only child, Amanda.

Amanda Shoemaker, 23, trains show horses in Portola Vally, California, near San Francisco. Shoemaker requested no funeral service and was cremated. Fellow jockeys reminisced about Shoemaker. They recalled his sense of humour, immense talent and soft touch on the reins. "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," Hall of Fame jockey Jorge Velasquez said. "He had those small, soft hands and he could make any horse settle. He had the best hands of any rider. It is a shame that he is gone."

Retired Hall of Fame rider Angel Cordero Jr. marvelled at how the 100-pound (45-kilogram) Shoemaker could command 1,100-pound (495-kilogram) racehorses. "With the little hands that he had and the size that he had, it was amazing to me how he could control a horse to do what he wants," he said.