HOT SPRINGS, Ark. &ndash; David Cabrera left his home in Mexico at 14 to chase the American dream. He&rsquo;s captured it at Oaklawn. Cabrera, 25, led the jockey standings heading into Monday&rsquo;s holiday card. He&rsquo;s a new face in Arkansas after plying his trade in Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. He&rsquo;s won two stakes at the meet, including the $125,000 King Cotton with Wilbo. &ldquo;Everything just came together,&rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;We work hard in the morning, with a good attitude, and I think people notice it. They gave us a chance. I think the horses can feel it, too. The horses are running well.&rdquo; Wilbo and Cabrera have won two races this meet, including an allowance one start before the King Cotton. Chris Hartman, who trains Wilbo, is one of Cabrera&rsquo;s biggest supporters at Oaklawn. &ldquo;I think the kid is an exceptional talent,&rdquo; Hartman said. &ldquo;I really think he&rsquo;s going to make an impact in horse racing. It won&rsquo;t be long before he&rsquo;s winning big&#45;money races. He&rsquo;s that kind of rider. He has the &lsquo;it&rsquo; factor.&rdquo; Cabrera did not set out to be a rider. The native of Mexico worked with his father and brother tending to the family&rsquo;s crops of peppers and broccoli, which were sold in the United States. &ldquo;I loved it,&rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;I thought I was going to be a farmer. I never got on a horse until I came to the U.S., when I was 14.&rdquo; Cabrera was always a driven individual, even working odd jobs while in school in Mexico. He decided he wanted to come to the United States, and his parents eventually agreed, sending him to live with his uncle, the now&#45;retired jockey Marcelino Rodriguez. &ldquo;I was home&#45;schooled and helped my uncle at the farm,&rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;I did that for two years. When I was 16, I decided to get my own job. I started breaking babies to the bridle, the brush, picking their feet. At that point, I really wanted to ride. I actually wanted to be an exercise rider.&rdquo; Cabrera eventually went to work for his aunt Marti Rodriguez, who is a trainer based in Oklahoma. Another mentor during his time in Oklahoma was jockey Cindy Murphy. &ldquo;I was working with her at the farm, and she told me &lsquo;I think you can be a rider,&rsquo; &rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;I was happy to be an exercise rider, working for her, working horses. But she said, &lsquo;You know what? I think you can be a rider.&rsquo; &rdquo; Cabrera eventually was licensed as a jockey at Sam Houston, then won his first race at Lone Star Park on May 2, 2013. &ldquo;When he won his first race, he hand&#45;rode the horse down the lane and the horse paid $78,&rdquo; Hartman said. &ldquo;He won&rsquo;t pull the stick out if he doesn&rsquo;t have to. That&rsquo;s one of his strongholds. It&rsquo;s just the kind of rider he is. You can&rsquo;t teach that. To bond with the horse, it&rsquo;s a God&#45;given talent.&rdquo; Cabrera had thought about basing at Oaklawn, but waited to make the move to this year. He has won 22 races from 116 mounts this meet, and those mounts have earned $799,444. &ldquo;I was going to try to go to Oaklawn last year, but I didn&rsquo;t think I was ready for it,&rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t think I was quite ready to face the competition. I wanted to give myself a little more experience. The meet is going great so far. My main thing was to get to the top five. We&rsquo;re just lucky. More than anything, I&rsquo;m grateful to God.&rdquo; Cabrera said that a month before the meet started, the agent he had lined up informed him that he would instead be taking the book of a high&#45;profile rider coming to town. Jockey Richard Eramia came to the aid of Cabrera. &ldquo;I was all worried, thinking &lsquo;What am I going to do,&rsquo; &rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;Richard Eramia said, &lsquo;Don&rsquo;t get disappointed.&rsquo; &rdquo; Eramia called Joe Santos, an agent and the son of Hall of Fame rider Jose Santos, who agreed to represent Cabrera. &ldquo;Joe, he&rsquo;s pretty sharp,&rdquo; Cabrera said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s a very hard worker, a very, very good agent.&rdquo; Santos said he has found Cabrera to be professional. Hartman loves the rider&rsquo;s attitude. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve known him since he was a little kid and he was always a very happy kid,&rdquo; Hartman said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve never seen him without a smile on his face. It&rsquo;s hard to get him down and I think all that plays off on the horses.&rdquo; Cabrera will not be riding at Oaklawn again until March 1, as he is serving two three&#45;day suspensions for riding infractions this meet. The setback comes with five&#45;time Oaklawn riding champ Ricardo Santana Jr. poised to overtake him in the standings, but Cabrera made the best of the situation in a phone interview Monday. &ldquo;I hate that we have to stop,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to get days, but I believe some things happen for a reason. We&rsquo;ll just come back as strong as we can.&rdquo;◗ The card Thursday is topped by an optional $62,500 claiming race for 3&#45;year&#45;old fillies at 1 1/16 miles, which could produce starters for the Grade 3, $200,000 Honeybee on March 10.