When Alta Bambina captured Wednesday's third race at Gulfstream Park West, Carlos David hardly had a difficult time finding the winner's circle to celebrate his first victory as a trainer.
The 35-year-old native of Cali, Colombia certainly was no stranger to the winner's circle during his five years as assistant to trainer Jason Servis in South Florida and New Jersey.
Rodrigo Cunha's Alta Bambina, a homebred daughter of American Lion, provided David with a memorable first victory while breaking her maiden by 10 ¼ lengths in a mile maiden race for $10,000 claimers while racing with ‘blinkers off' in her fourth career start.
“It felt great,” said David, who notched his career milestone with his 14th starter. “I'm happy I got it done. I'm happy for Rodrigo, who has given me a chance. I really appreciate it.”
David, a self-described city boy, took weekend trips with an uncle to polo farms, where he learned how to ride horses.
“I got the bug,” he said.
At 16, he immigrated to the U.S. and found his way to Belmont Park, where he started his racing career as a hotwalker and groom for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Wanting to ride horses, David moved on to Stonerside's Aiken, S.C. training center before returning to work for Mott as an exercise rider. He subsequently went to work for other trainers, including Seth Benzel and Servis.
“Jason is a great trainer. He's on it every day. He doesn't slack,” said David, who has become a U.S. citizen and purchased a home in Lake Worth, FL with an eye toward training year-round in South Florida.
David is prepared to follow Servis' example as he works to build his stable.
“I only have four horses right now. I have to keep working and get a few more wins and, hopefully, get more clients,” said David, whose cousin, trainer John Ortiz, has been enjoying success in Kentucky, where he recently saddled his first graded-stakes winner, Zulu Alpha, in the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland.
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