A Winning Combination
By: Nick D’Agostino
The future of racing relies on the influx of new talent and it is not an easy business to automatically jump into and become successful overnight. Pick any job that has to do with the backside and rest assured you’re going to be challenged at every turn to become mildly successful.
I had the pleasure of talking with Jose Santos Jr. recently. I remember him as kid dressed to the nines in a suit standing by his father’s side, Hall of Fame jockey Jose Santos Sr, in the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs after he piloted Funnycide to win the Kentucky Derby in 2003. He’s all grown up now and just like his father he decided to pursue a career in horse racing but in a different role as an agent.
Jose Jr. had the unique opportunity to grow up around so many greats in the sport those like his father- many of them Hall of Fame riders.
Jose Jr. recalled “they were my influence”,” I learned a lot being around them”.
My first question was did you ever want to become a jockey?
“I always wanted to be a jockey but I was far too big to be able to ride so I became an agent instead.”
He did just that, David Cabrera and him are fresh off the heels of winning the Remington Park meet. Cabrera and Santos Jr. met 3 weeks before the 2018 Oaklawn Park meet, Cabrera needing an agent and Jose Jr. being available. The two teamed up and quickly started racking up wins together as they finished 2nd for the meet behind Ricardo Santana.
It wasn’t always that easy in the beginning Santos told me. He started at the bottom and worked his way up “I used to drive from Mountaneer to Kentucky to try and get wins.” Jose previously represented the likes of Didiel Osorio, Kent Desormeaux, Jack Gilligan, Victor Lebron, CJ. McMahon, Jareth Loveberry, and Carlos Marquez.
After Oaklawn, Santos and Cabrera moved on to Prairie Meadows and finished 2nd at the meet in which their goal was to be in the top 5. When the meet concluded David’s main goal was to go to Remington Park and together Jose and David mapped out a plan to take that meet by storm. They had goals in mind for 2018 which were to win 200 races and to achieve 5 million dollars in earnings. Not only did they blast through those goals as they won with 236 mounts but they also hauled in 6.4 million in earnings.
On January 25th the Oaklawn Park meet begins and this dynamic team is back at it again. As I write this they have already been on the grounds working horses for a week preparing and getting ready.
I asked Jose about he and Cabrera’s recipe for success and he told me; “first, David is amazing to work with because of his work ethic and he has such a great head on his shoulders.” “Not only does David have the athleticism he is committed to being the best he can be and he is always prepared.”
Jose credits his ability to spot the best mounts for David by utilizing his handicapping skills and being able to assess potential mounts before the races are charted. Santos Said “I am up early and at the track by 6am and making my rounds”.
In speaking with Jose I could tell that he was so proud of both he and David’s success as he told me winning the Remington Park meet was the ultimate high for him and said it’s all because of focus and dedication. He credited trainers such as Karl Broberg, Steve Asmussen, Chris Hartman and Ron Moquett for helping him achieve the goals that he has and looks forward to even more success with them and many others in the future.
“I am very lucky to be a part of the younger generation of people making it in racing today.” “I have an active interest in helping the sport grow and I want to build more interaction on social media.”
I for one was happy to hear Jose talk about growing the sport and creating interaction on social media because the fan’s love to interact with people in the sport. In closing David reminded me that none of his success would be possible without all of the love and support from his parents. “They have always supported me and stood by me.” Racing is in Jose Jr’s. genes as both sides of his family have always been involved in racing.
Jose shared with me that he and David’s plans are to proceed to Churchill Downs after the Oaklawn meet concludes. “That’s our goal is to go to Churchill, we could have went last year, we decided to wait and we are now ready to take on bigger challenges.”
As for David Cabrera, his stock is steadily rising, if you look at his career thus far he has done nothing but improve year over year, he was ranked 11th in the nation in wins and 30th in earnings for 2018. He is a rising star in the Sport of Kings not to be taken lightly. Jose Santos Jr. and David Cabrera make a great team and it will be fun to watch their hard work pay off on the track. I wish them both the best of luck at Oaklawn Park and beyond.
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