I THINK IT IS TIME TO HAVE A WOMAN'S
SHOW ABOUT THE WEST. THE
CONCENTRATION HAS BEEN ON
MEN AND INDIANS.
Imagine race day and the race announcer is calling the race and it goes like this. "Crossing the line in a flying finish is the 1000th victory for the great jockey from Liberal Kansas-Wantha Davis."
In the process for gathering the stories about odd things from Kansas it always ends up giving me more leads. These stories are always surprising and delightful. Oh by the way Wantha Davis was born Wantha Bangs from Liberal Kansas January 3, 1917. And SHE is considered to be the greatest woman jockey of all time in horse racing with 1000 wins.
In 1931 Wantha started galloping horses in the Liberal area. In 1933 she rode in her first competitive race. In 1934 she graduated from Liberal High School. From 1934 until 1939 she rode in races in Dodge City, Winfield, Hartnew, Seiling,OK. and racing across the Western United States including Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California.
In 1939 she married Lendol Davis. She rode relay in the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, she won the New Mexico State Fair with her own mount, and galloped horses in Washington State.
She galloped horses at Churchill Downs, Douglas Park, and River Downs. She became the first female rider in the US-Jockey Club sanctioned to ride Para Mutual races. She raced in Lincoln, Hastings, and Columbus in Nebraska.
She was victorious over Hall of Famer Jack Westrope and Johnny London. She galloped horses at all the major tracks in the US because her application for Jockey Licensure was always turned down. Women did not get the right to be licensed until after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 twelve years after Wantha's last race.
Upon her husbands death she ran their 850 acre ranch by herself until she retired and moved to Austin TX so she could be near her family. She considered her grand children to be the greatest thing in her life.
She died surrounded by her family in Austin Texas on September 18, 2012. She was such a unpretencious and humble person that only the discovery of a box full of newspaper clippings did they know what a pioneer she had been.
Wantha was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2004.