Switch To Oaklawn A Productive Move For Jockey Fernando De La Cruz

A De La Cruz is in the top 10 of the rider standings at Oaklawn Park after 28 days of racing, but it’s not Walter De La Cruz. Instead, it’s older brother Fernando who is making an impact in his first season in Hot Springs, Ark.

Fernando De La Cruz is in a sixth-place tie with 13 victories from 91 starts. His mounts have earned $594,162 in purse money.

De La Cruz, 31, was riding at Tampa Bay Downs when agent Tony King said he called the jockey “out of the blue” in late December and asked if he would be willing to try Oaklawn, which opened Jan. 12.

“He was doing well in Tampa, but wasn’t having the success he had the previous couple of years,” King said. “I said, ‘What about the opportunity to go maybe hustle and ride at Oaklawn?’ He said, ‘Let me think about that. That’s an option for me.’ ”

King said the hook for De La Cruz relocating to Arkansas at the 11th hour was the opportunity to potentially “ride a few horses” for Brad Cox, a close friend of the agent and Oaklawn’s leading trainer this year.

The Cox/De La Cruz combination has produced a 9-3-0 record from 24 starters at the meet and purse earnings of $355,722.

“Been blessed,” King said. “It’s worked out very well so far.”

One of De La Cruz’s victories for Cox came aboard Exclamation Point, a 3-year-old half-brother to 2016 juvenile champion and 2017 Arkansas Derby winner Classic Empire, in his Feb. 3 career debut.

Exclamation Point is scheduled to make his first start around two turns in Saturday’s fifth race, an entry-level allowance/optional claimer at a mile.

“That’s a nice horse,” De La Cruz said.

Walter De La Cruz, who won 60 races at Oaklawn in 2015-2017, is the fourth-leading rider this year at Mahoning Valley.

The post Switch To Oaklawn A Productive Move For Jockey Fernando De La Cruz appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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