Charlie Davis, Exercise Rider For Secretariat, Battling Lung Cancer

The Secretariat Team announced today that Charlie Davis, the colorful and engaging exercise rider for 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, has been diagnosed with Stage 3 lung cancer and will immediately begin chemotherapy and radiation treatments to combat it.

“Charlie is in good spirits and ready to take on this challenge,” said Leonard Lusky, spokesman for the Secretariat Team. “His family and friends have rallied around him, and we stand ready to do what we can to help.”

Davis, who turns 78 next month, has regularly made appearances at racing venues, the Secretariat Festival and other events to the delight of generations of fans, always willing to share stories of Big Red and his first-hand experiences as a member of the Meadow Stable Team. Those appearances are a primary source of income for Davis, but due to his illness, he has not been able to travel.

To assist with uncovered medical bills and unforeseen living expenses, his family has launched a fund-raising effort, which already has been seeded long-time pal jockey Ron Turcotte, the family of Penny Chenery, and along with a few special friends and an associated GoFundMe account. Fans wishing to offer their support can find more information at As a token of appreciation, Davis will sign and send an autographed photo of himself aboard Secretariat to each donor. Cards and letters for Davis can be mailed to:

Charlie Davis
P.O. Box 4865
Louisville, KY 40204

Charlie Davis, long time exercise rider for Secretariat.

Davis, a native of Eutawville, S.C., was a member of legendary trainer Lucien Laurin’s “Holly Hills” crew and exercised some of the era’s top racing stars of the 1960s, including champion filly Quill and Belmont Stakes winner Amberoid. In 1971, when Laurin took over Christopher Chenery’s Meadow string, Davis was assigned as exercise rider for the stable’s champion colt Riva Ridge and later Secretariat. He still enjoys sharing memories of the 1973 Triple Crown winner he affectionately calls “Red.”

“He give me a vibe,” Davis remembers. “Like your kid is talking to you, but it was a stronger vibe, like, ‘Hey, I’m the man, you just along for the ride.’”