10/11/2003 11:00PM

Hall of Famer Shoemaker dead at 72

Thoroughbred Memories
Hall of Fame rider Bill Shoemaker, above winning the 1986 Kentucky Derby aboard Ferdinand, died at home in his sleep Sunday.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Hall of Fame jockey Bill Shoemaker, who won 8,833 races and four Kentucky Derbys, died early Sunday at his home in nearby San Marino. He was 72.

Friends of Shoemaker said he died in his sleep.

Shoemaker won more than 1,000 stakes, and 42 riding titles at Southern California tracks. He held the record as world's winningest rider for 29 years, surpassing John Longden with his 6,033th winner in 1970. He lost the mark to Laffit Pincay, Jr., in late 1999.

Shoemaker won his first race in April 1949 at Golden Gate Fields and won his final race on Jan. 20, 1990 at Gulfstream Park. He began training later that year but retired in 1997. In April 1991, Shoemaker was left paralyzed from the neck down after being injured in a single car accident in San Dimas, Calif.

In recent years, Shoemaker often visited Southern California racetracks in recent years to watch major races.

Shoemaker is survived by a daughter, Amanda.