John Shear, a former jockey who recently turned 90 and has been a paddock guard for years at Santa Anita, saved a young girl from potentially serious injuries when he threw himself in front of her to protect her from a loose horse Saturday.
Sea and Sage, a 3-year-old maiden trained by Gary Mandella, was in the walking ring before the third race when he freed himself from his handler and, in a 180-degree about-face, sprinted toward the opening Shear was guarding.
Shear ran in front of Sea and Sage and threw himself in front of and on top of the young girl, who appeared to be 3 or 4.
Sea and Sage collided with Shear, who remained conscious and responsive and was moving when he was transported by ambulance to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena for further evaluation.
The horse was uninjured, was caught in the Santa Anita barn area and returned to his stall in Mandella’s barn.