05/11/2003 11:00PM

Shoemaker enjoying his new life


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Len Shoemaker is enjoying life these days.

Shoemaker, 54, has retired as a trainer, in part because of the frustrations and spiraling costs of the business. The money derived from the sale of his family's valuable 30-acre ranch in Clovis, near Fresno, played a factor in his decision.

"I don't have any regrets," said Shoemaker, who is skin diving in Mexico this week with friend and former trainer Fordell Fierce.

Shoemaker's grandfather was a trainer. His father was a jockey who later broke and prepared horses at the ranch his grandfather bought in the mid-1950's.

Shoemaker was a pre-veterinary major at the University of California- Davis when his grandfather died in 1969. He came to the track after completing his finals to take over for his grandfather and never left.

He originally campaigned only his family's horses but later added a variety of clients. Although most of his clients dealt in claimers, Shoemaker developed a number of stakes winners, including Snow Squaw, Wind Shear, Friendly Bells, Misanthropy, and Mystically.

His final winner was Tonco, who was bred by his mother, Darlene.

Shoemaker intends to remain involved with horses as a buyer and agent for clients who want to acquire racehorses.

"I'm not leaving the business," he said. "I was able to get all my clients' horses placed with other trainers, and I'm going to claim some others with some of my longtime clients.

"I would like to go to some sales and find some good young horses if they're interested."

Wednesday co-features on turf

Three-year-olds and 4-year-olds share the Wednesday spotlight at Bay Meadows in a pair of one-mile turf races for $25,000 claimers.

Six 4-year-olds open the card, with Ludicrous Speed, who was claimed by Kent Molinaro in his last start, the likely favorite. Ludicrous Speed has a win, a second, and a third in three starts over the turf here.

Gottalovefaith, who has two turf wins, returns from an 11-month layoff, and Greenhills, second in the mud to Federal Highway in his northern California debut April 24, returns to his preferred surface.

Six 3-year-olds, only one of whom has ever run on grass, meet in the co-featured fourth race. Venture Cat, who has four wins, including one for this tag on April 4, has improved his Beyer Speed Figure in three straight races and appears the likely favorite.

Bittersweet day for Rollins

Chance Rollins had a big day Saturday with victories aboard Sweet Sister ($14.60) in the fifth, Perla Ermosa ($26) in the sixth, and Cut Class ($12.40) in the ninth. He also finished second on Rapier Dance in the $100,000 Ascot Handicap.

Rollins was first under the wire aboard 4-1 shot Prairie Predator in the fourth race but was disqualified to sixth. On Sunday, he received a five-day suspension, which will begin Friday, for the ride.

As a result of the disqualification, Tonco (36-1) was moved up to first, Lahooq (50-1) was placed second, and Value Play (9-1) was elevated to third with Davonic (9-2) fourth. Tonco and Lahooq combined for a $996.80 exacta on a $1 bet. The 10-7-3 trifecta paid $19,742.90. The superfecta payout for 10-7-3-all was $18,401.30.

Gonzalez gets 3,500th win

Roberto Gonzalez won three races Sunday, including his 3,500th aboard Tiger Slew in the fifth race. He won No. 3,499 one race earlier aboard Warehouse Ed.

"There are so many times I've gotten hurt, I didn't think I would go that far," he said. "I was happy when I hit 3,000. Then I got hurt, and when I came back a month later I got hurt again.

"Last year, I took it easy because I was in so much pain. I was not comfortable riding.

"Now I feel good. I have the support of owners and trainers. I'm picking up horses, winning races, and getting better horses."

Gonzalez missed Friday and Saturday at Bay Meadows when he went to Texas to ride Mr. Technique in the Lone Star Derby. The colt took the lead in the lane but finished fifth.

"That humidity really was tough on him and cost him in the final sixteenth," Gonzalez said.

Huge pick six hit by one bettor

One unidentified bettor at Bay Meadows had the lone winning pick six ticket and collected $333,706.80 on Sunday.

The pool included a four-day carryover of $134,954. A total of $355,716 was wagered on the pick six Sunday.

The winning ticket had Warehouse Ed ($9.40), Tiger Slew ($17.40), Ar Jay ($9), Catscape ($12.80), Woody Haze ($11.80), and Timetoknowyou ($3.20).

It was the largest individual payoff at Bay Meadows since Frank Judson cashed a lone ticket for a $1,132,466 payoff on Dec. 13, 1985.

There were 105 consolation tickets with five winners paying $811.20.