How many times did Bill Shoemaker win the American Triple Crown?
William Lee ‘Bill’ Shoemaker, a.k.a. ‘The Shoe’, rode his first winner on April 20, 1949 and his last on January 20, 1990. On September 7, 1970, Shoemaker broke the world record for winners ridden by a professional jockey, 6,032, set by English-born Johnny Longden four years earlier. Indeed, at the time of his retirement, Shoemaker had amassed 8,833 career winners, thereby setting a record that would stand until December 10, 1999, when broken by Panamanian-born Laffit Pincay Jr.. Pincay Jr.’s record has since been beaten, nay obliterated, by Canadian-born Russell Baze and, subsequently, by Brazilian-born Jorge Ricardo. Even so, three decades after his retirement from the saddle, Shoemaker remains the fourth most prolific jockey in horse racing history.
However, for all his success, it may come as a surprise to read that Shoemaker never won the American Triple Crown. He won each of the individual Triple Crown races – namely the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – more than once, but never all three races in the same season. In fact, the closest Shoemaker came to doing so was aboard Damascus who, in 1967, finished third behind Proud Clarion in the Kentucky Derby before winning the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. All told, Shoemaker won the Belmont Stakes five times, in 1957, 1959, 1962, 1967 and 1975, Kentucky Derby four times, in 1955, 1959, 1965 and 1986 and Preakness Stakes twice, in 1963 and 1967.