Willie Shoemaker won the Kentucky Derby four times, but he may be remembered best for the race he did not win. That was in 1957. He was aboard Gallant Man and gaining on Bill Hartack riding Iron Liege as the two horses dueled down the stretch.
Then an incredible lapse in attention occurred. As the horses passed the sixteenth pole, Shoemaker thought he had passed the finish line and stood up. Quickly he bounced back into the saddle and began riding hard again. But Gallant Man could not overtake Hartack and Iron Liege, who won by a nose.
John Nerud, the trainer for Gallant Man, stated, “I never figured out why he pulled up. He was one of the greatest riders ever.”
The answer seems to be simply that he was not paying attention. Paying attention to what is going around you, especially when you are about to win the Kentucky Derby, is the difference between defeat and victory!