Oaklawn Park Press Release
David Cohen came to the 2018 Oaklawn meeting trying to jumpstart his riding career. Clearly, he’s done that.
Cohen rode 75 winners last year at Oaklawn to edge perennial champion Ricardo Santana Jr. and claim his first local riding title. Cohen, 35, was a rising star a decade ago before a freak injury and the deaths of his father and sister derailed his career for more than three years.
Now, Cohen enters a new decade as a defending riding champion, and a newlywed, after marrying Ashleigh Porter – the jockey proposed on the day of the 2018 Belmont Stakes – Sept. 4 in Louisville, Ky.
“It’s a little different, but we don’t look at it that way,” Cohen said during training hours Jan. 5 at Oaklawn. “We were fortunate and blessed last year. Just happy to be here safe and healthy. As long as that continues, God willing, we’ll be OK.”
Cohen rode his first winner in 2004 and five years later ranked sixth nationally in victories (288) and 24th in purse earnings ($7,357,326) – both career highs – competing in New York and the Mid-Atlantic. In 2012, Cohen won Saratoga’s prestigious $1 million Travers Stakes (G1) for 3-year-olds aboard 33-1 long shot Golden Ticket, who dead-heated with favored Alpha.
“I’ve been riding long enough to know it’s a roller coaster,” Cohen said. “Hopefully, you’re always clicking and going up, but sometimes you do level out.”
Like a roller coaster, Cohen’s career began a steep descent after fracturing a leg when he was kicked by a horse in the paddock Feb. 1, 2014, at Aqueduct. Cohen subsequently lost his father to cancer and sister to a head injury and didn’t ride in 2015 and 2016. The jockey began laying the groundwork for a comeback with six mounts in late 2017 in Louisiana and rode 37 winners in his Oaklawn debut in 2018 to finish third in the standings. Overall in 2018, Cohen’s mounts earned $6,775,883, the jockey’s highest total since 2010. He was named Comeback Jockey of the Year by JockeyTalk.360.com, a web site dedicated to promoting jockeys around the world.
Backed strongly last year at Oaklawn by record-setting owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk), Cohen matched his 2018 victory output on the 34th day of the 57-day meeting (March 23) and finished two victories ahead of Santana, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2013-2018. Cohen rode 55 winners for M and M, which set single-season Oaklawn records for victories (61) and purse earnings ($1,775,651).
“It was one of those things, that even last year, I knew I was going to have a lot of support, but never looked at it like it was forced or had to,” Cohen said of winning the riding title. “If it happened, it happened. Same thing this year. Coming off my injury for 3 ½ years really puts a different perspective on things. At this point in my life and career, I’m just truly happy and blessed to be safe and healthy and have the support that I do.”
According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Cohen enters 2020 with 1,456 victories and $54,033,998 in purse earnings in his career. Cohen’s longtime agent is Bill Castle.