06/13/2008 12:00AM

New member joins David family's trade


Shawn David has studied health and exercise science, equine dentistry, been a personal trainer, and worked as a model in New York and Taiwan. But this spring, he decided he wanted to go into the family business. David, 28, launched his training career in April, and has gone 6 for 18 with his starters. He is a third-generation horseman, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, the late Sam David, and his father, Sam David Jr., who is based at Louisiana Downs.

Shawn David has a 12-horse stable at Evangeline Downs. He saddled his first career winner on April 25, and since then has maintained a 33 percent win rate. He has been an assistant to both his father and trainer Eric Guillot at Evangeline.

"It's kind of gotten in my blood," David said of racing. "My earliest memories are of walking horses for dad at the barn. I've tried to get away from it, but I always just keep coming back. I love it. I've been doing it all my life, and I couldn't see myself doing anything else."

David spent three years at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, where he played football and studied health and exercise science. That led to work as a personal trainer, which he said got him thinking more and more about starting a public racing stable.

"I was a personal trainer for humans for about two years, and just toward then end of it I got to missing the horses," he said. "[Training] had all the good things that personal training offers, except for your clients had to listen to you. You could put [horses] on a nutrition regiment or whatever, and they had to do exactly what you said."

David said his grandfather, who died last summer, had long encouraged him to become a trainer.

"He said, 'I don't know why you're not training. You've got all the [racing] education you need, and it's in your blood.' And even though I always felt that way, he really encouraged me."

"My dad loved the fact that Shawn was interested in the horses," said Sam David, 57.

"I'm real proud of the job he's done at Evangeline. He is an excellent horseman, far better than I was at his age. So, I'm real proud of him."

Sam David began training in 1972, when his father turned over his stable to him. Later that year, David won the training title at the inaugural meet at Calder Race Course in Miami. He and his wife, Janine, moved to Shreveport, La., in 1985.

"We were living in the Miami area and it was just getting so populated," Sam David said. "We came out here to run a horse in a stakes, a Louisiana-bred, and we said, 'Boy, this would be a nice place to raise the kids,' so we moved out here the following year."

The Davids have one other son, Eric, 32, a former school teacher and football coach who has a landscaping business in Lafayette. He lives near Shawn and his wife, Carrie. Shawn said his father's input has been invaluable.

"He's taught me so much," he said. "But if I had to say one thing, it's to treat every horse in the barn like an individual. Whether it's a Grade 1 winner or a $3,500 claimer, he caters to each horse individually, and that's what I try to do as well."

Sam David, who has a 40-horse stable at Louisiana Downs, registered his biggest win as a trainer in 1996, when Blushing K. D. won the Kentucky Oaks. He said he is excited about Shawn's future in racing, and hopes that a sport that has more than its share of ups and downs will be good to his son.

"It's a scary business for a young man to be starting out in, but at the same time it's a great business," Sam David said. "It's something I wouldn't change my experiences in for anything in the world. It's so competitive, and a great business for a guy like him."

Forty Acres stays on turf

Forty Acres moves back into the allowance ranks off a stakes win in the featured eighth race Sunday at Louisiana Downs. The about one-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and up drew a field of nine, including multiple stakes winner Silver Haze.

Forty Acres made a rare start on turf in the $50,000 Barksdale at Louisiana Downs on May 24, and rolled to a three-length win. Lonnie Meche was aboard and has the return call for trainer Jorge Lara.

Patrick Valenzuela will ride Silver Haze for trainer Steve Wren.