roy d. davis sr.
Born on December 23, 1929, Roy Davis won two Little Brown Jugs as the owner of Barberry Spur p,3,T1:50.2 ($1,634,017) and Jaguar Spur p,4,T1:49.2 ($1,806,473) in 1986 and 1987 respectively, and finished second in the Hambletonian with Esquire Spur 3,1:56f (336,250).
Davis enjoyed great success as an owner of stakes colts but also took his involvement in racing much farther than simply owning horses. His horses almost all carried the surname of “spur,” inspired by an English soccer team, the Tottenham Hotspurs, and reflecting Mr. Davis's Texas heritage.
One of his first successful horses was the trotting mare Sissy Spur 6,2:04.1f ($100,689), who earned more than $100,000 in the 1970s. Other major stakes winners he owned included 1986 Yonkers Trot winner Gunslinger Spur 3,1:58f ($317,562).
Davis also won a pair of Breeders Crowns - in 1988 with Kentucky Spur p,3,1:52 ($1,341,340) in the Two-Year-Old Colt Pace and in 1989 with Esquire Spur in the Three-Year-Old Colt Trot. Overall, Davis’ horses have earnings of $1.2 million in the Breeders Crown series from just 12 starters.
Davis was named 1998 Horseman of the Year by the United States Trotting Association.
Davis enjoyed a solid and longstanding relationship with trainer Richard “Dick” Stillings, who spoke of their days of buying yearlings and racing horses on the night Stillings was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012.
Davis was a director of the Hambletonian Society as well as of the Little Brown Jug Society. He also served as a director of the U.S. Trotting Association from 1976-78.
During his tenure as a director of the Hambletonian Society, Davis spoke frankly from his position as a horse owner and businessman. He was the director who suggested at an annual meeting that the conditions for the Hambletonian include the provision that starters be prohibited from racing on Lasix, holding the prestigious event to a higher and historic standard.
Davis’ leadership was instrumental when a horsemen’s strike at The Meadows in the mid-1970s put the track’s horsemen at odds with new owners Joe Hardy and Ed Ryan. Davis was a key negotiator for Hardy and Ryan and would become a founding member of the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association. He provided the organization great guidance, writing its bylaws and serving as president and an officer for several years.
While Davis’ passion was harness racing, his dominance in the wholesale and group travel industry with Royal Travel Corporation provided the wherewithal to maintain his horses during his early racing career. From a small office building located just outside the stable gate at The Meadows, Mr. Davis ran the company. He also served as president of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Society of Travel Agents.
Davis used his business contacts in the Pittsburgh area to help promote harness racing. His connections as a shareholder in a Pittsburgh cable television company paved the way for the local cable TV stations to air the Meadows Racing Network programming, a long-running show that also was key to the expansion of telephone wagering.
Davis was a longtime member of Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, equity member and past president of Cat Cay Club since the mid-1970s, and supportive member of North Dallas High School, Class of 1947.
He was married to his wife, Vera for 37 years, and even in divorce remained friendly. They had three children, Roy D. of Tampa, Florida, Vikki of Dallas, Texas and Richard of Las Vegas, Nevada.
Roy Davis died on June 16, 2015. He was 85.