About Wantha


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Timeline of Wantha's Career

1931 Started galloping horses around Liberal, Kansas.
1933 Rode first competitive race.
1934 Graduated from Liberal High School.
1935 Rode races Dodge City, Winfield and Hartnew, Kansas; as well as Seiling, Oklahoma.
1936–38 Raced across the western U.S. including Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and California. These races were regularly scheduled races and also match races where she raced against just one other mount.
1938–39 Won New Mexico State Handicap at the New Mexico State Fair with her own mount, Jesse Dean.
1939 Rode races in New Mexico State Fair and also Las Cruces, Deming and Lordsburg, New Mexico. Married Lendol Davis.
1941 Rode relay race in Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Galloped horses in Washington State.
1942–43 Galloped horses in Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, Douglas Park in Louisville, Kentucky and River Downs, Ohio for two winters.
1943 Was the world's first female rider in US Jockey Club-sanctioned pari-mutuel races. She rode in Lincoln, Hastings and Columbus, Nebraska, for nationally recognized trainers including Racing Hall of Fame trainer Marion Van Berg and was one of the leading jockeys alongside Hall of Fame rider Basil James and the top US jockey of 1936, Ralph Neves.
1945 Galloped horses at River Downs, Columbus, Beulah Park, Ascot Park at Akron, and Randall Park Cincinnati, Ohio.
1946 Rode numerous races in Texas and Oklahoma, including match races.
1947 Rode numerous races in Liberal, Kansas; Duncan, Oklahoma; and Houston, Texas including match races.
1949 Beat Racing Hall of Fame jockey, Johnny Longden (the top male jockey at the time), in a special exhibition match race at Agua Caliente Mexico. Competed in many exhibition races at Agua Caliente, Mexico.

Raced two seasons in Tucson, Arizona riding both thoroughbreds and quarter horses. Won the Arizona Derby with her own mount, Little Robert.

Rode races in Las Vegas, Nevada; Caliente, Mexico; Vessels Ranch, California, one of the largest quarter horse race tracks at the time, and numerous other tracks in California.

Rode for American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame member, owner and trainer, Walter Merrick.

Rode for Rex C. Ellsworth, well known breeder and owner of 1955 Kentucky Derby winner, Swaps.
1950 Beat Racing Hall of Fame jockey, Jackie Westrope, in a special exhibition match race. Beat Hall of Famer Glen Laswell. Rode races in Agua Caliente, Mexico; Ely and Elko, Nevada. Rode races at Vessels Ranch and other places in California and Tucson, Arizona.
1951 Competed special exhibition races at Exhibition Park in Vancouver, Canada, and at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland, one week before the Triple Crown. Competed in numerous races in Oklahoma, Nevada, Texas, Wyoming and Montana.
1952–54 Rode races in Kansas.
1955–56 Raced in Oklahoma and Kansas.
1957–78 Worked her family ranch, breaking and training colts for the race track and raising cattle.
1979 Husband Lendol dies.
1979–1995 Solely runs 850-acre family ranch.
1995–2012 Retired and lived out her life in Austin, Texas close to her family.
2004 Inducted into the National Cowgirl Museum’s Hall of Fame.
2012 Wantha Davis passed away with her family at her side in Austin TX.
Girl Jockey Wantha Davis