Newcomer David Cabrera became the first jockey to reach double-figure victories at the Oaklawn meeting when he swept Saturday’s late daily double, including his first local stakes score aboard Swing and Sway in the $125,000 American Beauty for older female sprinters.
Cabrera’s strong start – 10 victories from 47 starts and purse earnings of $358,801 – mirrors 2017 when he set career highs across the board. A native of Mexico, Cabrera, 25, ranked 19th nationally in victories (197) and 54th in purse earnings ($4,085,101), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
Ron Moquett, who trains Swing and Sway, said Cabrera is reminiscent of five-time defending Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. Moquett was among Santana’s biggest supporters early in his career.
“Obviously, he’s athletically gifted,” Moquett said Sunday morning. “But I liked his personality, I liked his will to win and we gelled. Cabrera has a lot of those similarities. The more people get to ride him, the more they’re going to like him.”
Cabrera, who is represented by agent Joe Santos, has already ridden winners for eight trainers – Chris Hartman (two) and Karl Broberg (two) and one each for Moquett, Donnie K. Von Hemel, Clinton Stuart, Blaine Williams, Austin Gustafson and Lynn Chleboard.
“I’m pretty happy that I’ve got Jose as an agent,” Cabrera said. “I’m happy with the way things have gone so far.”
Cabrera has at least one victory during the first nine days of racing. Seven winners have paid double digits, including C C’s Baby Girl ($119.60), Wilbo ($30.40) and Swing and Sway ($24.60).
“They’re giving everything a shot to run,” said Santos, who also represents newcomer C.J. McMahon. “A little bit of not knowing their names. For years over here, you’re betting Santana, (Ramon) Vazquez. You’ve got Gary Stevens. Everybody recognizes his name. Jon Court is a fixture around these parts.”
Cabrera won the riding title at Lone Star as an apprentice in 2014. He’s also topped the standings at another Texas track, Retama, and finished second to Vazquez last year at Prairie Meadows.
Cabrera, who had previously wintered at Sam Houston, is trying to become the first newcomer to win an Oaklawn riding title since Jeremy Rose in 2005.
“On my end, we’re just trying to ride the best horses in the races we can get,” Santos said. “We’ve also got our clients that we have to ride for. Right now, it’s started off so well that it’s hard not to have that as a goal in mind. It’s going to be difficult to go anywhere to win a title. But with the start we’ve gotten off to, it definitely sits in the back of your mind.”
Another newcomer, David Cohen, is second to Cabrera with eight victories. McMahon is tied for third with six victories. Santana is tied for fifth with five victories.
Cabrera ranks second to Cohen ($384,843) in purse earnings at the meet.