ARCADIA, Calif. (March 12, 2011)—Veteran Santa Anita Paddock Guard John Shear was injured Saturday as he threw himself in front of a young girl in order to protect her from a loose horse, prior to the running of the third race.

Shear, a former jockey who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, has been a fixture at Santa Anita for decades. Prior to the incident, he was in his normal position holding the rope on the west entrance of the track’s walking ring.

Sea and Sage, a 3-year-old gelding who had started twice previously at the current meet, was in the walking ring with nine other horses who were readying for the upcoming race. Sea and Sage wheeled, freeing himself from his handler and in a 180 degree about-face, sprinted towards the opening Shear was guarding just outside the walking ring.

As seen live on simulcast television, Shear, instead of dropping the perimeter rope he was holding and protecting himself, ran in front of the loose horse and threw himself in front of and on top of the young girl in the crowd, who appeared to be three or four years of age.

Sea and Sage collided with Shear, who remained conscious, responsive and was moving when he was attended to by on-site First Aid personnel and later by members of the City of Arcadia Fire Department.

Shear was taken by ambulance to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena for further evaluation.

Sea and Sage emerged from the incident uninjured and was caught in the Santa Anita stable area, whereupon he was returned to his stall at trainer Gary Mandella’s barn.