03/21/2012 2:23PM

Oaklawn: A newcomer makes himself known


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Jockey Alex Cintron’s decision to test the waters at Oaklawn Park has resulted in the best meet of his young career. He is tied for sixth in the current standings, and on Friday has capable mounts in both allowance features at the track. Cintron will ride Iowa Breeders’ Derby winner One Hundred Proof in the eighth for trainer Kelly Von Hemel, and leading contender Big Tall Paul in the ninth for one of his strongest patrons, trainer Cody Autrey.

Cintron, 24, came to Oaklawn from Delaware Park. He launched his race-riding career in 2008 at Philadelphia Park, following his graduation from a jockey school in his native Puerto Rico. He is the lone member of his family to venture into racing, and he did so for one simple reason.

“I’ve loved the horses all my life,” he said.

Cintron got off to a fast start here in January, when he won a handful of races for Autrey, who led the standings for the first few weeks of the meet. Overall, Cintron has won 17 races from 141 starts this season, for mount earnings of $390,992.

“This is the first time I’ve done really good at one track, riding for the right people, with a good agent,” Cintron said. “Now, I want to keep going.”

Cintron, who is represented by noted agent Gene Short, said it was trainer Tim Ritchey who recommended he try Oaklawn. Cintron had been riding some for Ritchey at Delaware, and while there Cintron also caught the attention of Autrey.

“We had seen him ride at Delaware when we were up there and thought he had some ability,” Autrey said. “So when he got here we started putting him on some horses, and he’s done very well for us.

“He’s a very nice kid, and a very good rider, and he should go a long way.”

Cintron will head back to Delaware Park following Oaklawn. He said he would like to return here next season and continue his chase for a 3-year-old at a meet known for producing horses for the Triple Crown.

“I want to find a good horse, and you have to be at a good track to find a good horse,” he said.

Back to work for On Fire Baby

On Fire Baby is scheduled to have her first work since winning the Grade 3, $125,000 Honeybee at Oaklawn on either Tuesday or Wednesday, said her trainer, Gary Hartlage.

“My goal is to work on Tuesday, weather permitting,” said Hartlage.

On Fire Baby won the Honeybee on March 10 with a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 99. Her next start is still being determined, with her connections looking at either the Grade 2, $300,000 Fantasy for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn on April 11, or the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14.