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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Winner's Circle - Jockey Davis

By | Sports

On Monday, August 6, Dylan Davis put on white pants and slipped his arms into the sleeves of racing silks for his first-ever rides as a jockey. He’s been galloping horses for two years and spent a year at Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy. The young lad was champing at the bit to ride races. “It’s too soon,” were the words coming from many of the people on the backstretch, but his dad felt differently.

 

“He could gallop and work horses till the cows come home, but the only way to learn to ride races is to ride races,” said his father, retired jockey Robbie Davis. Wesley Ward has been urging Robbie to give Dylan the green light. On Monday, the light turned green, and the only thing brighter was the smile on Dylan’s face

His first mount came in the fourth race. Dylan’s anxious family members watched closely. Photographers were lined up three-deep when his father walked at his side from the Jockeys’ Quarters to the Paddock. When the Paddock Judge called “Riders up,” it was Robbie who boosted Dylan into the saddle. Wesley Ward’s Black Rhino made the lead but faded to finish fourth.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and the picture I saw was of one of complete elation. He didn’t win, but he did accomplish something even more important: he piloted that horse safely around the course.

After the race, when he stepped on the scales, another picture flashed in my mind: that of the famous Norman Rockwell painting of Eddie Arcaro weighing out after a race. Class has its own, undeniable look, and that is what I saw and admired most of all in Dylan.

Dylan said that morning, “You only have a matter of minutes to get ready for the next race.” Of course, he had to wipe a little dirt off his face from race four as he quickly changed into Ice Wine Stable’s burgundy and light blue diamond silks for the next race.

This time Wesley Ward legged him up on Fierce, a maiden two-year-old filly. There was nothing fierce about her race, and she finished last in the eight-horse field. Like her rider, this filly begs for more experience, and one thing you can bet on is that Wesley Ward will be there to provide the education they both need.

There must have been a dozen reporters crowded around Dylan after he weighed in from that race. I’d been spending time with him since spring, so didn’t feel I needed to join in that busy session. I just watched him continue to smile and admired his composure under this intensity.

Later, I waited for Dylan outside the Jocks Room with several members of his family. What a group of winners they are. I asked his grandmother how she was feeling and she shyly admitted, “I didn’t get this nervous when Robbie started; maybe that’s because I was so young then, or maybe it’s because Robbie’s first rides were on Quarter Horses and they rode for ham sandwiches.”

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