The couple, who were married in mid-December, were stunned to learn that due to New York State Gaming Commission rules their horses must be coupled in the wagering whenever they ride in the same race at New York Racing Association tracks.
Davis said Jan. 1 the little-known state rule that calls for horses ridden by married couples to be coupled needs to be changed.
“It is 2021, and you shouldn’t be able to stop people from making a living,” Davis said. “I told Trevor we need to stick together on this because I wouldn’t want my little girl to go through this while trying to make a living.”
McCarthy is the more accomplished of the two riders. He had 737 mounts in 2020 with 8,747 career starts, while Davis had only 240 rides in 2020 and 2,004 in her career. While she says the trainers who use her have said the coupling of entries will not sway them from using her, there is concern it could impact McCarthy.
“Trevor is worried it might affect his business, and if it does it could come down to me choosing to make a living or not, and that’s not fair. It’s not the 1800s anymore. The rule needs to be changed,” Davis said. “We are very competitive. We don’t give each other a shot. We’re both trying 150% when we ride against each other.”
Davis said she has reached out to the Jockeys’ Guild for help in convincing the Gaming Commission to drop the rule, but she has heard from other sources it could take up to six months for the commission to rule on the matter.
“I hope the Jockeys’ Guild can help us,” she said. “Maybe the fans will dictate what happens. The power of the fans and bettors is pretty strong.”
The horses ridden by Davis and McCarthy were coupled in the first and fourth races Jan. 1 at Aqueduct. They will have mounts in the same race three times Jan. 2 and once on the Jan. 3 Big A cards.
NYRA Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza said NYRA’s hands are tied in the matter.
“We have to follow the rules. NYRA is the operator, not the regulator,” Panza said. “So, we will follow what the rulebook says, even if we might not agree with the rulebook. Every year we try to get rid of coupled entries.”