TIME Magazine, March 9, 1962, p. 74:|
A Way with Horses
...Flashbulbs popped and sportswriters clustered around the winner's circle, "How does it feel, Willie," one wanted to know, "to ride six winners in one day?"
To stony-faced Willie Shoemaker, 30, it probably felt monotonous. In the last 75 years, only 42 riders have booted home six winners in a day; Shoemaker has done it eight times. He has won 41 $100,000 races (including 4 in six weeks last year), and his record for victories in a single season (485 in 1953) has never been approached. Eddie Arcaro and Johnny Longden have won more races; Arcaro has won more money. But Arcaro is 46, Longden is 55, and they have been riding thoroughbreds for a combined total of 65 years. In only 13 years in the irons, Shoemaker has won 4,256 races, and his mounts have earned more than $25 million.
High and Forward. Key to Shoemaker's remarkable record is his flawless, sensitive riding style. "Willie takes such light hold of a horse," says Eddie Arcaro, "that he could probably ride with silk threads for reins..."
Hunched high and forward, his weight over his horse's withers, Shoemaker is the picture of tranquility in the saddle. "The big thing," he says, "is to relax. Lots of jocks don't do that. They're tense. Somehow I think my relaxation gets across to the horse, makes him want to run. If I were asked to give advice to young riders, the first thing I'd tell them is 'Never get in a hurry.'"
Reared in Southern California, Texas-born Willie Shoemaker had never ridden a thoroughbred before he quit school at 15 to work on a horse farm. "I used to listen to the radio nights," he explains, "when they re-created the races at Santa Anita and Hollywood. I got the idea that because of my size I could be a jockey."
...Anything He Wants. In the pint-sized company of jockeys, Shoemaker is a half-pint (4 ft. 11 in., 98 lbs.) who eats anything he wants, never visits the sweatbox, can make weight for any horse-- unlike such outsized jockeys as Arcaro (112 lbs.), who must be fitted to heavier-handicapped horses. Unemotional as Ben Hogan, uncommunicative as Calvin Coolidge, he is well liked by his fellow jocks, well known only by close friends. He is one of the world's richest athletes. His income from horse racing alone averages about $250,000 a year, and he has interests in a restaurant, a gas station, oil wells in Texas, and a 33,000-acre cattle ranch in Arizona. He owns two Cadillacs, six tuxedos, 20 sports coats and 25 suits (all hand-tailored), lives in a swank Pasadena apartment. When he retires, Willie expects to expand his breeding operations: he already owns a stable of broodmares and a share in the stallion Round Table. But he is in no hurry to quit. "Retire?" asks Jockey Shoemaker. "Look at Arcaro and Longden. Why, I'd be ashamed to retire while they're still riding. I'm young, and I'm getting better all the time."