Exhibit celebrates jockey Bill Shoemaker

Historical, Personal memorabilia on display

May 4, 2011 

The Willie Shoemaker exhibit, which opened April 25 will be open for the rest of the year at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville.


"The Shoe" shines at the Kentucky Derby Museum through the end of 2012.

On April 25, the museum opened a special exhibit about renowned jockey Bill Shoemaker.

The exhibit displays the historical and personal memorabilia that Shoemaker acquired through his 41-year racing career, including scrapbooks, photos, awards and trophies.

Shoemaker was born prematurely on Aug. 19, 1931, in Fabens, Texas. He weighed only 2.5 pounds and was not expected to live through the night.

His survival is often credited to his 92-year-old grandmother, who made a makeshift incubator from the heat of an oven, blankets and an old shoebox. He lived through the night and went on to become the world's winningest jockey until 1999.

Shoemaker rode in more than 40,000 races and won 8,833. His purse totaled more than $123 million, and he was the first jockey to win more than $100 million.

He had four Kentucky Derby victories —1955 aboard Swaps, 1959 with Tomy Lee, 1965 with Lucky Debonair and 1986 on Ferdinand — and holds the record as the oldest jockey, at age 54, to win a Kentucky Derby.

At 58, "The Shoe" retired from racing and began training horses. He died at age 72 on Oct. 12, 2003.

The museum received the collection in January 2009 from Shoemaker's daughter, Amanda. The "Shoemaker: Start to Finish" exhibit is included in the admission price to the museum.

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