David Cabrera Earns First Oaklawn Park Riding Title

on 05/09/2022 2:33 PM

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Oaklawn Park press release 5/9/2022

David Cabrera, who had been sidelined since April 8 because to a riding accident, returned to Oaklawn Sunday and was crowned a champion.

Cabrera captured his first career Oaklawn riding title with 62 victories – one more than runner-up Francisco Arrieta – despite missing the final 13 racing days because of injury. Cabrera entered April 8 – Day 53 of the 66-day meeting – with a 62-49 lead over Arrieta. Eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana was third with 47 victories.

Arrieta, who was seeking his first career Oaklawn riding title, trailed 62-60 entering Sunday, the final day of the 2021-2022 meeting. Arrieta pulled within 62-61 after winning the fourth race aboard Decision Maker ($10.20) for trainer Tom Van Berg. But Arrieta was winless with his last four mounts, leaving Cabrera to accept the leading rider trophy from Oaklawn vice president of racing Jason Milligan in the Larry Snyder Winner’s Circle following the 10th and final race.

“To be honest, when that (accident) happened to me, we were doing really good,” Cabrera, 29, said moments before Sunday’s final race. “But thank God, I think we’re going to have a chance to do it again, so I was very grateful for that. I really didn’t think (62) was going to hold up. I thought it was a long shot. Even until this morning, I thought it was a long shot. But I’m happy. I’m very happy and that’s why I’m here, really.”

Cabrera, who has spent the last few weeks recovering at his home in Jones, Okla., and targeting a return to the saddle in late May at Lone Star Park, sustained head, neck and upper back injuries in an April 8 spill, which occurred in the first race when his mount, Mostly Awesome, clipped heels in the upper stretch and fell. Cabrera was unseated and tumbled hard to the ground. He said he has no memory of the accident.

“Actually, it’s the like the last five days that I’ve started to feel normal,” Cabrera said. “Before that, I was having trouble with my senses. I was still acting a little weird. Everything, I think, has come back to normal.”

In addition to equaling his single-season Oaklawn personal best for victories, Cabrera tied for first in stakes victories (four) and finished fourth in purse earnings ($3,375,263) at the meet. Cabrera’s victory aboard Rated R Superstar in the $500,000 Essex Handicap (G3) for older horses March 19 was the most lucrative of the jockey’s career to date. Cabrera also rode four winners three times (Feb. 19, Feb. 21 and March 31), another personal Oaklawn best.

Cabrera, in his local debut, rode 43 winners to finish second in the 2018 Oaklawn standings behind Santana and 62 winners in 2021 to again finish second to Santana. Santana finished third this season with 58 victories. He didn’t ride the final three days of the meeting after moving his tack to Churchill Downs.

“This is a dream,” Cabrera said. “This is a dream and I really thank my agent. He’s a very, very good agent. To me, having him is something very good. He’s my secret weapon.”

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