Jockey relishes newfound bridesmaid role in stakes

Profile Picture: Ted Black

Ted Black

October 1st, 2017

On a day when many thoroughbred racing enthusiasts were closing monitoring the Breeders Cup prep races at Belmont Park and Santa Anita, Laurel Park offered a trio of graded stakes races on the lawn and a handful of other races for Virginia-bred runners. Amid the stellar performances by horses, trainers and jockeys - none of which likely were springboards to the Breeders Cup - was an overlooked effort by one local female jockey who finished second in three stakes races.

Jockey Katie Davis, daughter of former jockey Robbie Davis and the fifth of six children, enjoyed a solid day of riding although none of her mounts ended up finding the winner's circle. Davis finished second aboard Cryptos Holiday in the $60,000 Punch Line Stakes for Virginia-breds, second with Northern Eclipse in the $60,000 Oakley Stakes for Virginia-breds and then second again with Wicked Sister in the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes for Virginia-bred two-year-old colts. For good measure she had been second one week earlier aboard Punch Your Brother in the $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial at Charles Town.

Of the quartet of runner-up performers, only Northern Eclipse was basically expected to be part of the exacta, going postward as the 9-5 second choice. Cryptos Holiday was 6-1, while both Wicked Sister and Punch Your Brother were genuine longshots. Her runner-up performance at Charles Town was aboard a juvenile that had thrown her in the post parade in his scheduled career debut at Penn National two months ago and was scratched.

"I had been working Punch Your Brother and then [trainer] Hugh [McMahon] decided to ship him to Penn National for his first race and I begged Hugh to let me go up and ride him," said Davis, 25. "When he came out on the track he was getting a little rambunctious and started to mount the pony and the outrider let him go and he jumped up on his back legs and dropped me right there and then ran off and had to be scratched. But I wanted to ride him back at Charles Town and he ran well."

Then on Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park, Davis continued her recent bridesmaid act in recent stakes when she finished second in a trio of events on the grass for Virginia-bred runners. Davis sports four small tattoos, one behind her right ear, one on her left bicep and one on each wrist. All four are modest reminders of her positive attitude, having rebounded from several tough spills and a concussion. In fact, being dubbed a bridesmaid seemed unwarranted since three of her mounts were aboard longshots.

In fact, Davis finished second with Cryptos Holiday in the $60,000 Punch Line Stakes on a day when even-money choice Two Notch Road simply failed to deliver. Davis had won aboard Cryptos Holiday in a one-mile allowance/optional claiming event on the dirt at Delaware Park in his previous outing, but admitted his performance on the grass at Laurel was even better.

"I had rode that horse in his last race at Delaware Park for Doug [Fout] and he made the lead turning for home and raced really well," Davis said. "But I thought he raced better today. I think the turf course helped him. He really seemed to like it more than he did the dirt."

One race later on the card, Davis steered Northern Eclipse to a second-place finish in the Oakley for Virginia-bred fillies and mares, being overhauled in the lane by 3-5 choice Exaggerated (Daniel Centeno). Davis had ridden Northern Eclipse only once previously, guiding the five-year-old daughter of Northern Afleet to a second-place finish in a one-turn allowance dash on the turf at Delaware Park.

"Going into that race, I thought the outside horse [Exaggerated] was going to be tough to beat," Davis said. "I got away really well and sat just off of [Trish's Wish] as long as I could and then I was hoping to get the jump on Daniel turning for home, but he had too much horse left. My mare ran well. I was happy to be second."

Then three races later in the $60,000 Jamestown Stakes for Virgina-bred two-year-old of both genders, Yes to the Dress (Jose Lezcano) delivered a powerful performance and drew clear to a six-length score in 1:03.27, but Davis guided Wicked Sister to a solid second-place effort at 45-1 for trainer Carla Morgan. The juvenile daughter of Giacomo had finished fourth against maiden claimers in her career debut at Laurel and improved at a big price in her second outing.

"That was the first time that I had been aboard her and she really felt good warming up," Davis said. "The winner just drew off from me on the turn, but my filly ran a good race. I didn't win any of the stakes, but I thought I rode well. Except for that one mare that Hugh trains, I don't think too many people thought those horses were going to be second. I always try to maintain a positive attitude. You can't be afraid to take chances or to get hurt because once you lose your confidence and that's never a good thing."