Trevor McCarthy aboard Highland Chief (Photo courtesy of NYRA)
Best of 2022: Trevor McCarthy
NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y. –To celebrate the season, the NYRA Press Office checked in with a selection of racing personalities to get their reflections on the memorable year.
Jockey Trevor McCarthy moved his tack to New York to ride full time just over one year ago, and has enjoyed a prosperous 2022 campaign, posting a record of 906-104-120-113 and earnings of $8,063,443 at NYRA tracks. McCarthy’s year, which ended prematurely in late November due to injury, was highlighted by his first career Grade 1 victory aboard Highland Chief in the $700,000 Man o’ War in May at Belmont Park for trainer and longtime friend and mentor Graham Motion.
The Man o’ War was the 24th overall graded win for McCarthy, who also celebrated a score in this year’s Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay aboard the Chad Brown-trained Virginia Joy, giving him a second consecutive win in that event after guiding Magic Attitude to victory last year.
McCarthy is part of a large family of jockeys on the NYRA circuit, riding alongside his wife, Katie Davis, and her siblings Dylan and Jacqueline, who are the children of retired multiple Grade 1-winning rider Robbie Davis, who is now a trainer. McCarthy and Katie Davis welcomed their first child last December, a baby girl named Riley.
What has it been like to be able to ride alongside your family?
McCarthy: “It’s nice to have family around and it makes it even more competitive. It’s all about bragging rights at the end of the day. We all like to go out there and keep each other safe and at the end of the day, we’re all happy for each other.”
What did it mean to earn your first Grade 1 victory?
McCarthy: “It was really special to get that off my back. I’ve been riding for 10 years and it’s something that’s been on my bucket list for my whole career. To finally get it there at Belmont Park and for Graham Motion, who has done so much for me and is somebody I came up under and learned how to ride through, was a super special moment.”
How special was it to win such an important race with Graham Motion?
McCarthy: “I’m so glad I got to win a Grade 1 for him. I started out galloping horses when I was 15-years-old for Graham. It was my first galloping job and my dad had just retired from training. He pointed me to Graham’s stable and I was very fortunate for him to give me a job. I started out small and learning how to ride, and by the end of the summer I was able to start breezing horses. I went back to school and came back in on the weekends, and I would take the winters off. I couldn’t wait to get back in the springtime, especially when they would get babies in.”
How confident were you heading into the Man o’ War?
McCarthy: “It was a tough race. You had multiple Grade 1-winner Gufo and you had Yibir, the Breeders’ Cup [Turf] winner. I thought to myself, ‘Hey, if I can get a piece of it, I’d be more than happy with the outcome.’ I had William Buick [aboard Yibir] in my corner [of the jock’s room] that day. He was getting worried as the rain started to come and he started asking me about the course, and my question to him was, ‘Why are you so concerned?’ He said, ‘Well, my horse hates the soft turf!’ I said, ‘Well, that’s great for me, my horse loves soft turf!’
“I knew Gufo as well and I had ridden him before and won a stake on him as a 3-year-old; I knew he wasn’t too fond of the soft ground either, so I said, ‘This is looking really good for me – maybe I won’t finish third and can finish second.’ To wind up winning it was pretty remarkable.”
What has been your experience riding in New York full time?
McCarthy: “It’s been really up and down. This is a really tough colony – it’s the toughest colony in the country. We had a really great winter last year and had to pay our dues throughout this year. I had a great year up until my injury and we had some goals that we wanted to hit and were just shy, which was really disappointing. My goal was to hit $10 million in purses for the year, but we came about $1.3 million short. But hey, things happen and I’m just grateful that I’m able to come back and only miss a few months.”
What are your goals for 2023 and beyond?
McCarthy: “I just want to keep bettering myself every year and learning in this colony is huge to me. I want to keep riding with confidence – it’s so easy to get down in this game, especially in a tough colony, and I just want to keep learning and stay healthy. Everybody wants to ride in or win a Breeders’ Cup or a Kentucky Derby, so that would be great if I can make it to those races. I guess that’s really what drives us all to keep going is the good horses and the big races. At the end of the day, I’m going to keep trying to get there and I’ll work as hard as I can to succeed.”