Much has changed on the south Florida racing scene over the last two decades, but one constant has been the presence of longtime trainer and FTHA Board member David Fawkes. A Chicago-area native, Fawkes got his start in racing as a teenager galloping horses at the local tracks for family friend Don Gibbons, who “worked for one of the top owners in Illinois when racing in that state was thriving.”
Eventually he made his way down to Florida with noted Midwestern trainer Christine Jenks when the outfit travelled south for the winter months. Fawkes was a natural on the back of a horse and figured that he’d take a shot at being a jockey; while he won his first race in the irons, he quickly learned that wasn’t going to be his calling.
“I was a brutal jock,” Fawkes said with a laugh. “I could gallop a horse as good as anyone, but riding in the afternoon was a whole different story.”
Still, he gave it a go for close to a year before going back to being an exercise rider.