Friday, June 29, 2018

From Rodeo to Racetrack, Shawn Davis is Ready to Ride

While cowboys loom large in our imagination, one place where they are relatively rare is the racetrack. But one can be found. His name is Shawn Davis. While Davis may call his profession as a Thoroughbred trainer a "hobby," his handling of grade 3 winner Chief Cicatriz, who will start in the June 30 Kelly's Landing Overnight Stakes at Churchill Downs, is further proof of his multifaceted skills as a horseman. Having spent more than half a century wrangling livestock, the 77-year-old hardboot is enjoying an unexpected run of success in an area that until recently was little more than a side hustle. Growing up in Whitehall, Mont., Davis began his career in rodeo early, riding in his first competition at the age of 5. While his focus remained on bronc riding, the promise of a little extra pocket change galloping and riding race horses attracted Davis. "When I was just 8 or 9, I was given a racehorse by my uncles," Davis said. "They thought I should be a jockey. That's where I got started. I would gallop and ride racehorses as a job—mainly Quarter Horses. I was about 10 pounds too heavy, but if they couldn't get anyone on the horses, I'd ride them. Especially if they had horses that were hard to handle." With his work as a part-time jockey merely a pastime for the young rodeo star, Davis quickly ascended the professional ladder as a bronc rider. He achieved success as both a high school and collegiate champion before he went pro in the 1960s, and he won his first saddle bronc riding world championship in 1965. Davis went on to win back-to-back championships in 1967-68 and led the world standings. But in 1969 a bronc fell on him while he was working in Montana. Davis's broke his back during the incident and the injury threw the future of his career into question...MORE

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