ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 10, 2018)–The Old Man and the Racetrack. The Gift that keeps on Giving. The Human version of Fine Wine. What more can you say about Santa Anita’s beloved Paddock Captain, John Shear, who is still active every race day at the Great Race Place while approaching his 97th, yes, 97th birthday!
Although he’ll officially spin life’s odometer next Wednesday, Jan. 17, Shear, who along with his wife Diane, resides in Sierra Madre, will be feted in a Winner’s Circle ceremony between races this Monday, Martin Luther King Day.
A native of England who originally aspired to be a jockey, Shear gained national recognition for an act of heroism at the age of 90, when on March 12, 2011, he threw himself between an on-rushing loose horse and a 5-year-old girl just outside Santa Anita’s Seabiscuit Walking Ring.
Employed at Santa Anita in various roles for nearly six decades, Shear remains an enthusiastic member of the track’s workforce and is quick to credit his work ethic as a major factor in his longevity.
“First of all, I love to be outside and I love to walk,” he said. “I do a lot of that here. I tell people, ‘What am I going to do staying at home?’ And I really mean that. I love coming to work, moving around, seeing all the people on the weekends and being with the horses. It keeps me young, and every now and then, I find something to bet on!”
And here’s hoping John Shear cashes many, many more winning tickets before he finally “cashes in” on what has been an extraordinary life.
This Monday is also Dollar Day at Santa Anita as one dollar beers and sodas will be offered. Monday’s feature race on a nine-race card is the Grade III, $100,000 Megahertz Stakes for older fillies and mares at one mile on turf. First post time is at 12:30 p.m. and admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.