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While Adelphia Racing Club and Cutair Racing’s Grade 3-placed stakes winner Funny How will be racing for the first time outside of her native New York in Sunday’s feature at Laurel Park, she’ll be accompanied by a familiar face.

Jockey Katie Davis, a Mid-Atlantic fixture for five years where she enjoyed some of her most successful seasons, will be on Ray Handal-trained Funny How for the sixth straight time in Race 8, a third-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares sprinting 5½ furlongs.

The race will mark the first time riding in Maryland for the 36-year-old Davis since winning aboard Fairy Wish May 9, 2021 at Pimlico Race Course. Represented by agent Joe Migliore, a son of retired jockey Rich Migliore, Davis ran fourth on Rockstar Girl April 11, 2021, her last race at Laurel.

“I am so excited to come back,” Davis said. “I have such great memories there. People still reach out here and there, which is awesome. I was just telling Joey, ‘Don’t book me too many in the morning. I want to get down there for the first race and see everybody.’”

One of six children of ex-jockey Robbie Davis, a winner of 3,382 races from 1981-2002, Katie Davis is based in New York where she and her husband, four-time Maryland champion Trevor McCarthy, both ride. Married in December 2020, they have a daughter, Riley, born a year later.

“[Trevor] told me last night, ‘If you don’t want to go tomorrow, I’ll go for you.’ I said, ‘No, I’m good,’” Davis laughed. “I might make it a day or two trip and spend the night. I want to make it a nice trip because I don’t get down there very often. I really want to enjoy it.”

Davis was a Maryland regular from 2016 until mid-2021, when she stepped away from riding for 16 months on maternity leave before returning in September 2022. She set personal bests with 73 wins and 545 mounts in 2017, the same year she won her first career stakes in Laurel’s Conniver on Next Best Thing.

Last year, Davis surpassed seven figures in purse earnings for the fourth time with a career-best $2,372,616. She has won 289 races and $9.87 million in purses from 2,619 lifetime mounts.

“The Mid-Atlantic, when I had my best years down there, I traveled day and night, up and down the roads trying to get opportunities here and there. When you’ve got guys that are running in Maryalnd and they want to go to [Pennsylvania], you have to go because that’s your business. You don’t want to lose that business,” Davis said. “Up here, you’re kind of at one track and they’ve got their riders and it ended up being my best year. I’m a mom and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed doing both. I had a life on top of [riding], which is nice.”

Funny How drew outermost Post 7 Sunday, her first race since finishing fifth in the 6½-furlong Iroquois for New York-breds Oct. 29. The 5-year-old mare strung together five consecutive wins in 2022-23 capped by the seven-furlong Broadway last February, a streak ended when she ran second by 1 ½ lengths in the Distaff (G3).

“She’s ready to run. The races haven’t been going. We’ve tried to go to Parx, we tried here [at Aqueduct] three times, we tried Parx again and then Maryland ended up going,” Davis said. “Let me tell you, she makes my morning. Every time I come off the track I’m telling Ray, ‘You better have somebody there waiting for me walking home,’ because she’s prancing like she did nothing. She doesn’t even break a sweat. She’ s full of life and it kind of reminds me a little of me and how much I enjoy it. It just brightens my day up. I’m really lucky to get to ride her in Maryland.”

Interestingly, Davis’ husband rode Funny How in each of her first four races, the last two of them wins. Joel Rosario was aboard for one race, a second-level optional claiming allowance in November 2022, before Davis took over in the afternoon. Funny How is the 8-5 program favorite Sunday.

“Trevor was riding her when he got hurt last winter. I was galloping for Ray after I had Riley. He gave me an opportunity but he was looking for a rider, too. It ended up working out perfect because my parents were also in his barn. I started galloping for him and I rode her as a 2-year-old when she first came to the barn,” Davis said. “I fell in love with her from day one. I try to do my best on every horse, but we just had that connection. She’s a good filly.

““I got to know the owners up in Saratoga so when Trevor did get hurt, I ended up snatching the mount after Joel rode her and we won the Broadway,” she added. “I was getting a leg up on her when I first rode her and she turned completely around and put her face in my lap. We just had that connection. It was kind of nice to be able to get the opportunity on her and keep it in the family, as well.”

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