Retired jockey Jesse Davidson died Jan. 16 in his Ellicott City, Md., home. He was 69.
A native of Hyden, Ky., Davidson won 3,035 races for more than $10 million during his career that began in 1957 and ended in 1988, when he suffered a career-ending injury during a spill at Laurel Park. He missed more than seven years after being convicted of fixing a race with three other jockeys at Bowie Race Course on Valentine’s Day 1975, which included a six-month sentence in federal prison.
Davidson was the leading rider in the country in 1965 when he visited the winner’s circle 319 times. He won more than 200 races five other times during that decade (’61-62-63-66-67).
Davidson rode superstar filly Shuvee to a 1969 Filly Triple Crown sweep (the Acorn, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club American Oaks). He rode Southern Appeal in the 1986 Kentucky Derby, the two finishing unplaced.
“His numbers were always good at Charles Town, Shenandoah Downs, and the half-mile tracks in Maryland,” said Maryland Racing Commission steward Phil Grove, who competed against Davidson as a rider. “He was very popular with the trainers and knew how to win at those tracks. Jesse was prone to accidents and got hurt many times during his career.”
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, plus three daughters and nine grandchildren, including jockeys Brandon and Grant Whitacre.
Grant was the seventh leading rider at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course last year. Brandon rode in Maryland as an apprentice in 2003-2004 and is now based at Charles Town.
A viewing will be held tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. at Slack Funeral Home in Ellicott City with funeral services scheduled tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.