Jockey Corey Nakatani, who has not ridden since a nasty fall at Del Mar in August 2018, officially retired last Saturday via a press release issued by his son/agent Matt Nakatani.
Nakatani won 3,909 races in North America, including 120 Grade I races and 10 Breeders’ Cup races. Nakatani also won major races in Dubai, England, and Japan. He won 10 riding titles in Southern California riding at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park and Del Mar against some of the best riding colonies ever assembled. His mounts earned over $234 million (12th all time).
Known for his prowess on the turf, Nakatani also won four Breeders’ Cup Sprints with Thor’s Echo (2006), Reraise (1998), Elmhurst (1997), and Lit de Justice (1996). Nakatani was also the regular rider of Lava Man, who was claimed by trainer Doug O’Neill for $50,000 and went on to earn over $5.2 million in his distinguished career. Lava Man is currently a pony for the Doug O’Neill stable.
“The time has come to officially announce my retirement from the sport of horse racing,” said the 49-year-old Nakatani. “Although I never imagined this was how my career would end, I am very proud of my accomplishments and know that I competed at the very highest of levels, which gives me a sense of satisfaction.”
Nakatani suffered multiple compression fractures to his back and herniated discs to multiple vertebrae when another horse crossed into his path on the Del Mar turf last August, causing his mount to clip heels and fall. He has required multiple surgeries during the recovery process.
Del Mar cancels Thanksgiving card
With severe storms likely for the middle of this week, Del Mar on Sunday cancelled the card already drawn for Thanksgiving Day and has altered the Stakes schedule for this week’s Turf Festival.
The Grade III Red Carpet Stakes, originally scheduled for Thursday, will instead be run on Saturday, while Friday’s Grade II Hollywood Turf Cup has been moved to Sunday with dirt races only being carded on Friday.
“The Weatherman is making it tough, but safety always comes first,” said Tom Robbins, Del Mar’s executive vice president of racing. “We appreciate the cooperation from our horsemen. We’re planning on putting on a good show Friday and following that with tremendous Stakes-filled cards on both Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve got horsemen coming into town from back east for our big races and we want them to know that their races will be presented as planned under safe and proper conditions.”
As of Monday, the only east coast-based trainer to alter plans on shipping to Del Mar was Christophe Clement. Del Mar will conduct 10-race cards Saturday and Sunday, requiring an earlier 12 noon post time both days. Since Sunday is closing day there will be mandatory payouts in all wagering pools.
Winter meets get underway
The transition to winter racing signals gets underway during Thanksgiving week.
Tampa Bay Downs opens Wednesday for its five-month meeting, highlighted by two Kentucky Derby preps — the February 8 Sam F. Davis Stakes and the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby.
The best feature for horseplayers is that Tampa Bay Downs does not allow “batch betting,” meaning sophisticated players with computer algorithms are not allowed late access to the pari-mutuel pools. As a result, you will likely see fewer late odds changes prior to the start of each race.
The Fair Grounds in New Orleans goes back to their traditional Thanksgiving Day opening for the first time since 2012. Expect Brad Cox, Steve Asmussen and Joe Sharp to be at the top of the trainer standings. Kent Desormeaux has joined the Fair Grounds riding colony, where Florent Geroux figures to be among the leading jockeys once again.
Gulfstream Park’s “Champions meet” kicks off on Friday. The heavily used turf course got a much-needed break during the Gulfstream Park West meet and will be in full use, including six grass races on opening day.
The development of the sophomore class of 2020 is always key at Gulfstream and there will be no less than six Stakes races for two-year-olds this Saturday to help jump start those youngsters.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Del Mar Friday Race 9 — Promise Nothing (No. 6). Maiden ran a professional race in debut, taking dirt in his face early before finishing with interest to be a good third. He should be able to stalk the projected lively pace and that experience from his debut could pay dividends here.