Paddock captain at Santa Anita Park celebrates 97th birthday

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If there's a race at Santa Anita Park, you'll hear the call to post, you'll watch the horses fly by and you'll see John Shear. (KABC)

If there's a race at Santa Anita Park, you'll hear the call to post, you'll watch the horses fly by and you'll see John Shear.

"When I came from England and I stepped foot here in Santa Anita, I said, 'This is the place where I want to live.' I felt so happy. The ambiance of the place hit me, and I loved it, and I've loved it ever since," said Shear.

On Wednesday, Shear will celebrate his 97th birthday. He credits working at Santa Anita as the key to his longevity

"Every year is better than the other one," said Shear.

Shear started working in the parking lot at Santa Anita Park before becoming paddock captain. For six decades, he's secured the paddock, making sure the public is safe when they go to see the horses up close. Back in 2011 at the age of 90, Shear threw himself in front of a 5-year-old girl who was in the path of a horse running loose.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, staff and jockey's celebrated his birthday in the winners circle.

"He's just a ray of sunshine, and he'll tell you part of what has kept him the youngest 97-year-old I think on the planet is that he enjoys what he does," said Mike Willman, the Director of Publicity at Santa Anita.

Willman said Shear hasn't slowed down with age. Shear hopes the park never loses its charm.

"I'd like to see people come, happy," said Shear. "I'd like to see them win, if possible, and I would just like to see them have fun, especially children."

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