“Everybody Loved Him”: Horse Racing Fans Left Heartbroken as Award Winning Paddock Captain Passes Away

Published 12/14/2023, 9:30 AM EST

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Horse Racing is a ground of glory for the industry mains. Equines or human athletes, trainers, and owners take home the numbers that frame a legacy and recognition. However, among the rarity of instances, the backstretch help that backs the grounds retain the spotlight. For Santa Anita Paddock Captain, the latter factor found its way to him. Award, love, and admiration followed the enthusiast along as he reached the end of his journey.

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On the 13th of December, John Shear’s family announced that the paddock captain had taken his final breath due to natural causes. After decades in the industry behind the scenes and at times in the front, the 102-year-old had gained quite the admiration.

The beloved paddock captain bids adieu

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John Shear had a glorious 6 decades career in the industry before he retired in 2020. Marking a start with an aim to embrace the role of a jockey, Shear shifted from an exercise rider to an assistant trainer. But it was his trip to the Santa Anita stables that really caught his heart. The reckoning journey further marked an end with the family’s announcement. “John had a remarkable life with love for family and dedication to work that made such a positive impact on so many. He will forever be in our hearts,” the X post read.

In his career, Shear risked his life for a kid, placing himself between a horse and the child causing suffering for himself. His act and years of service earned him the Mr. Fitz Award in 2021. And as Santa Anita extended their words, stating, “We’ll never forget him,” hundreds joined in on X.

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The horse racing community gathers to grieve

John Shear’s horse racing career of 60 years meant an interaction and impact on hundreds. Race host Steve Byk was one among several that was on the receiving end. “Made the racetrack experience better for all who came into contact with him,” he wrote.

Another presence in the industry, a betting site agreed as they stated, “He was always a warm and friendly face to see upon entering the paddock.”

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One of the users spoke for everyone who met him as he said, “A tremendous human. Everybody loved him.”

A keen follower of the horse racing realm warmingly remarked that John left his “uplifting attitude” to serve as a reminder to learn and enjoy little things.

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As condolences for the family and the love for John Shear poured in, one fan summed up all with 3 words, “a great man.”

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Written by:

Shivatmika Manvi

703Articles

One take at a time

I was a little kid when my dad brought home a second horse out of his sheer love for the creatures. The excitement to ride and care for one from the first moment still gets to me as I watch the horses in action today; covering the intensity on the field. However, along the way of being immersed in the wider ground of equestrian sports, rodeo and bull riding lingered in the sight.
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Edited by:

Suman Varandani

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