Just three live race days remain in 2022 to complete a remarkable year of racing action on the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) circuit. To celebrate the season, the NYRA Press Office checked in with a selection of racing personalities to get their reflections on a memorable year.
Jockey Dylan Davis, 28, comes from a racing-oriented family. His father, trainer Robbie Davis, is a retired multiple Grade 1-winning jockey. His sisters – Katie and Jackie – are also jockeys and his brother Eddie is a trainer based on the NYRA circuit.
The native of Manhasset, New York, has enjoyed his best season in 10 years of riding, posting career bests this year in wins  and purse earnings [$13,067,692]. In March, he captured his first riding title by notching 63 victories at the 2021-22 Aqueduct winter meet.
With only three race days remaining in 2022 at Aqueduct, Davis could add to a tremendous season as he currently leads all riders with 183 wins on the NYRA circuit in 2022 – an 11 victory advantage over his nearest rival, Manny Franco. In addition, Davis is currently in second place at the Big A fall meet, which concludes on December 31, with 28 wins, just two scores shy of the leading Kendrick Carmouche.
His graded stakes triumphs this year came aboard Glass Ceiling [Grade 3 Distaff at Aqueduct and Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park] as well as with Boppy O. [Grade 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga Race Course].
Davis lives in Garden City with his wife Sara and their two children, Michael and Demi.
After years of riding year round on the New York circuit, how important was it to win a riding title?
Davis: “It means a lot. It was the first title I’ve ever had and to be able to see everything come together meant a lot to me. I stuck it out with Mike Migliore, my agent throughout the years on the NYRA circuit. To be able to accomplish that feels great when you work so hard at something. There are no words to describe it, but I feel very honored and grateful.”
This has been your best year in terms of wins and earnings. In a year of so many accomplishments, who do you attribute most of the credit to?
Davis: “All the horses. And again, my agent. He took me on when I was ready to leave New York and he saw something in me and pushed me further than I thought I was ever going to go. He’s always believed in me and always pushed me. He said that one day I’m going to be there, I just have to work hard and that’s what we’re doing now. Everything kind of fell into place this past year, so I’m just continuing to hope for the best and push for a better year. I felt like me and Mike working hard together every year and putting ourselves in the right position has been highly instrumental. I have other mentors, my father, and all the owners and the trainers that believed in me and trusted me to ride their horses and then it’s my job to get the job done.”
Towards the end of last year, you captured your first Grade 1 aboard Mutamakina in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine. Did that give you the momentum you needed to have a year like this?
Davis: “Oh yes, of course. I always have big goals of being a part of that elite group of Grade 1 caliber jockeys. I feel like I’m not quite there yet, so I’m still trying to push myself to get into that group. But that Grade 1 really helped me a lot because I had a trainer like Christophe Clement, who believed in me in that category and I was able to get the job done. To get that first one was good, and it boosted my confidence. I had Flavien Prat [aboard Kalifornia Queen] on my inside that day and Joel Rosario [aboard La Dragontea] on my outside closing hard, so to beat them that day felt great and boosted my confidence.”
You come from a very racing-oriented upbringing. How influential has your father been from the beginning?
Davis: “Even before I started riding, he’s taught me a lot. I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my career, but my dad really set the tone early on. Even in my first year of riding, he was calling me every day and we were reviewing tapes. Not so much today, he says I’m riding great, but I’ve always told him, ‘You’ve got to tell me something, I need to hear some criticism’ because I like that. I always try to push myself. But he says I’m riding great, I just need to keep on pushing.”
This year, Saratoga reintroduced the Wilson Chute. How did it feel from a rider’s perspective?
Davis: “I like it because some horses don’t want to go the full two turns and seven furlongs might be too much of a sprint for some of them. It’s nice to have some variables when you come off the turf with different distances to choose from.”
Any rides that you were most proud of?
Davis: “I won with Miss Dracarys [in the Forever Together on November 20 at Aqueduct], for the same owners as Mutamakina, Al Shira’aa Farms. I’ve had a lot of success with them. I’ve won some stakes all through the year, Grade 2s and 3s, but every win is special.”
Do people tell you that your riding style is similar to that of your father’s?
Davis: “I hear that a lot. I was young when my dad retired, so I can only go off tapes or YouTube to be able to watch him. I don’t remember dad riding that much. I’ve never actually tried to mimic his style, I just ride what’s comfortable for me and how I feel in the saddle and people say I look like my dad, so I guess that’s just genetics. I think it’s pretty cool.”
What are your goals for 2023?
Davis: “To win more titles and Grade 1s. I’m just always trying to do better than the previous year and stay healthy.”