By Patrycja Szpyra
Jared Shoemaker, co-managing partner of Pocket Aces Racing, grew up in Lexington and fondly remembers going to Keeneland with his extended family from the time he could walk. It was one of his favorite things to do as a child.
By the time he was in high school, he admits to spending a lot of afternoons at the track while supposedly in class. Not one to miss a good day of racing–no matter the reason–he scheduled all of his lectures at the University of Kentucky to be done by noon so he could get to Keeneland by first post.
Shoemaker has spent the last 27 years in northeastern Kentucky, where his wife is from. He invested about 10 years working in college athletics and has been in the pharmaceutical industry full-time since 2008.
Pocket Aces Racing was born over a card game among friends in 2005, hence the double ace silks. They all pitched in and bought a Victory Gallop yearling filly to eventually race at Charles Town. Aptly named 'Victory Morning', the filly won her debut by about 10 lengths in her first start in September of her 2-year-old year. People that had never been owners, and had never even imagined owning a race horse (Shoemaker included), had so much fun with it that they decided to formalize, and turn it into a business.
Almost 17 years later from that four-time winning first filly, the syndicate has grown to over 300 partners and 30 active runners, give or take a few.
Shoemaker joined TDN for a Q&A and some reminiscing. Here are his answers to breeding and racing's most poignant questions for 2022 and into the new year!
TDN: What is your racing or bloodstock highlight for this year?
JS: Temple City Terror winning the G3 Dowager at Keeneland.
TDN: Who is your value sire for 2023?
JS: Temple City
TDN: Who do you predict will be the leading freshman sire next year?
TDN: If you could nominate one candidate (person or horse) to the Hall of Fame, who would get your nomination? Why?
JS: Perry Ouzts – 7,336 says it all. I don't care what level it is; you can't argue with that number of wins.
TDN: What is one positive change you'd like to see in racing next year?
JS: Serious, real, and swift consequences for individuals that tarnish our great sport by cheating. Enough is enough.
TDN: Who is your favorite horse of all time?
JS: Ferdinand. His win in the Derby with Bill Shoemaker aboard is what really elevated my love for racing to the next level.
TDN: What was the most exciting race you saw this year?
JS: It's personal for me – it was Temple City Terror in the Dowager. To win a graded stake at Keeneland [having grown up at the track] is everything for me.
TDN: If you could go back in time and see one race in person, what would it be?
JS: The 1978 Triple Crown Races, but if I have to pick one, the 1978 Belmont.
TDN: If you could only go to one track for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?
TDN: If you could compete in any race in the world outside the US, which one would you want an entry in?
JS: Dubai World Cup
TDN: What was the biggest “surprise” of 2022–be it sales price, track performance, or a stallion?
TDN: Who would you tab as your favorite 'TDN Rising Star'?
JS: We bought a Siyouni gelding out of the HORA sale at Keeneland last month so I'll go with Intinso who won an allowance at New Castle in late October.
TDN: What is a hill you will die on when it comes to horse racing or breeding?
JS: We have to clean up the sport, but we can't fool ourselves into thinking that getting rid of the cheaters and restoring confidence in the game is the panacea for all our woes.
TDN: Do you have thoughts on what more needs doing?
JS: We have to do a better job attracting new fans and making our sport more accessible. I realize everyone has their fiefdoms they want to protect, but the industry HAS to come together and cooperate to grow our sport.
TDN: Secretariat or Flightline? Care to stir the pot?
JS: Secretariat. Always Secretariat
TDN: The burning question on everyone's mind–do you decorate your house for the winter holidays before or after Thanksgiving?
JS: Always after.