09/04/2011 4:05PM

Saratoga: First starter for Robbie Davis finishes 11th

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jackie Davis and her father, Robbie Davis, as they prepare for the elder Davis's first mount as a trainer Sunday at Saratoga.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.  - A next-to-last-place finish never felt as good as the 11th-place finish by Sandyinthesun in Sunday’s eighth race at Saratoga.

Sandyinthesun was the first starter for former jockey-turned-trainer Robbie Davis, who gave a leg up to his 24-year-old daughter, Jackie, in the race. Sandyinthesun, a 4-year-old first-time starter, broke tardily,  then bore in soon thereafter and was only able to finish ahead of one horse. He was beaten 16 1/2 lengths by Turn up the Music in the New York-bred maiden special weight race.

“Well, we got this one under our belts, this was important,’’ Robbie Davis said immediately afterward. “We wanted to go in a mile-and-a-sixteenth race, but he’s a first-time starter. Next-time we can run him a mile and an eighth. We get this out of the way and now it will be okay.’’

Asked what it was like to start his first horse and have it be ridden by his daughter, Davis said: “It was really exciting, but it’s hard very hard on the nerves.’’

The race came on the three-year anniversary of Jackie Davis’s first-ever ride. Jackie Davis called riding for her dad “a dream come true. I love it.’’

Davis had to dismount from the horse in order for the assistant starter to load him.

“He was being a little bit of a jerk, but he hadn’t had the experience before,’’ she said. “He ducked in from the break and I just tried to school him and get something out of it. He’ll be much better next time around.’’

 Robbie Davis retired from race-riding in 2002. He hopes to ride again, perhaps this fall at Belmont Park.