12/12/2008 12:00AM

Sunland's climate suits Ocampo


Israel Ocampo has moved his tack to Sunland Park from Hawthorne Race Course and is one of a handful of new faces at the New Mexico meet that opened on Friday. He will be riding some horses for trainer Jeff Mullins, who is racing a division at Sunland for the first time. His agent is Nick Canani, who has recently given up training to take Ocampo's book at Sunland.

Ocampo, 22, began his career in Mexico City and is in the midst of his best year as a rider. He won the Grade 2, $300,000 Cornhusker Breeders' Cup at Prairie Meadows in June with Wayzata Bay, which has helped boost his 2008 mount earnings to $2.5 million. The success comes one year after Ocampo won the spring title at Hawthorne. He ranked sixth in the current standings through Thursday.

"The weather is a lot warmer than Chicago," Ocampo said last week from Sunland. "It's too cold for me right now. I'm going to stay here. I'm trying to hook up with a good trainer and see how it goes."

Ocampo has gotten immediate support from high percentage trainers Jon Arnett, Gary Cross, and Southern California-based Mullins, who made a last-minute decision to come to New Mexico, and has more than 20 horses stabled at a training center near Sunland.

"We're going to give Israel Ocampo the most opportunity at this point," Mullins said. "I've watched a lot of video of races he rode at Hawthorne, and he seems like a talented rider. Hopefully, we can make some money."

Mullins has had success in New Mexico before, winning the Sunland Park Oaks in 2006. Canani, who won the same race in 2003 with Island Fashion, counts the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks with Sicy d'Alsace as his biggest career win as a trainer. He has given up his Kentucky-based stable in the last two weeks to come to Sunland with Ocampo.

"Israel gave me a great opportunity to come in here and take his book," Canani said. "We have mutual friends that kind of put us together. We were both sitting in 22 degree weather back home, and we kind of said, 'You know something, let's get out of the cold.' It's a meet that's starting up at the perfect time."

Craddock closing out a big meet

Trainer Kari Craddock on Sunday will attempt to close out what has been an outstanding Remington meet with a pair of stakes wins. She has the probable favorite for the $50,000 Black Mesa in Reel Chrome, and will also start Annieville in the six-furlong race for Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares. Craddock's other stakes starter on the card is Steal Your Face in the $50,000 Silver Goblin.

Annieville and Steal Your Face both won stakes on the Oklahoma Classics Day program at Remington in September. Craddock also won a third stakes on that program, with No Advance in the Juvenile. It was a career highlight for the trainer, who is a native of South Dakota.

"That was just amazing," she said. "All of them were well-placed, and I knew I had a shot with each one of them. But then to have them all come through the way they did was truly a magical night."

The success has lifted Craddock to her best year as a trainer. Her 24-horse stable has accounted for 34 wins and earnings of $703,743 so far in 2008. This meet at Remington, Craddock is winning at a 22-percent rate, going 16 for 72. Before she opened her own stable, she galloped horses for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Hobeau Farm.

* Gar Oil Corp., has been one of the hottest stables at Remington, winning with eight of its last 16 starters to be tied for second in the owner standings behind leader Danny Caldwell.

* Fasig Tipton Texas has a winter mixed sale Sunday at Lone Star Park.