Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Monday, May 31

| Churchill Downs Communications | 06/03/2011 #

Coming to Arlington Park Wednesday:  Jockey Corey Nakatani; Indian Jockey Gets 1st American Win Sunday at Arlington Sunday; Early Holiday Weekend International Festival Updates  

Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani, who reached the 3,000-career win milestone on Memorial Day five years ago, will bring his tack to Arlington Park beginning Wednesday when he is listed to ride three horses on the nine-race program.

Although born in Covina, California, and based in Southern California the majority of his career, the 40-year-old Nakatani has ridden at Arlington with success during past International Festival of Racings, capturing the Grade I Beverly D. in 1995 with Blue Vista Farm’s Possibly Perfect for the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, and riding the runner-up in two Grade I Arlington Millions – initially with Columbine Stable’s Manndar in 2000 for conditioner Beau Greeley and once again two years later aboard Gary Tanaka’s Sarafan for Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale. In all he has ridden in eight Arlington Millions.

Although, Nakatani has never won the Kentucky Derby, he finished second in the 2011 edition three weeks ago aboard Zayat Stables’ Nehro for trainer Steve Asmussen, and boasts two wins in the Kentucky Oaks.  The first one came in 1991 aboard Oaktown Stable’s Lite Light and the second astride Hollendorfer and Todaro’s Pike Place Dancer in 1996.  Both of those fillies were trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs this summer.

Entering Wednesday’s races, Nakatani’s career record has him winning 3,433 races from 20,475 mounts with career earnings of approaching $200 million.

Interestingly, the jockey’s late father Roy Nakatani, a Japanese American, was born in a World War II internment camp and spent time at Santa Anita Race Course while it was a relocation camp years before his son began his very successful riding career there.

Nakatani’s mounts Wednesday at Arlington begin in the third race when he rides the 8-5 favorite Nagys Piggy Bank for Arlington’s current leading owner William Stiritz and conditioner Scott Becker, currently second in the Arlington trainer standings.  He is also slated aboard Stiritz’ Wildwood Heir in the eighth race for Becker, and in the ninth on Gordon and Sharon Bredeson’s Camagin for trainer Moises Yanez.

Jockey Suraj Narredu, a native of India who reached the 1,000-career win milestone faster than any other rider in that nation’s history, rode his first winner in the United States aboard his third American mount Sunday when tallied aboard Al Ali’s Invisible Star in the first race of the day at Arlington Park.

“It is amazing, it’s like a dream come true for me to come to this country and win a race at a major American track like Arlington,” said Narredu when joined by wife Riya moments after the victory.  “This is a big moment for me, for my family, and for the whole country of India.”

Narredu, 26, who arrived in Chicago following a 16-hour flight from Dehli on May 12, came to America to ride with the hope that he might enhance his reputation as a truly internationally-renowned reinsman.

Last year, Narredu made his first international assignment a winning one by capturing the Festival International Kreol Cup during the International Jockeys Weekend Challenge on the Island Nation of Mauritius.

In that race as part of the Rising Stars division, Narredu defeated top French riders Mickael Barrzalona and Maxine Guyon, British jockey Hailey Turner and South African star Donavan Mansour.

Encouraging updates among original nominations to this summer’s International Festival of Racing occurred Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend when All In Stable’s Mid-America Triple nominee Willcox Inn took down winning honors in the Arlington Classic; Barbara Hunter’s original Beverly D. nominee Keertana beat male rivals in Churchill’s Louisville Handicap; and original Arlington Million nominee The Usual Q. T., owned by Don Van Racing, finished third in Hollywood’s American Handicap.

Also, in Belmont’s Sheepshead Bay Stakes, Robert Scarborough’s original Beverly D. nominee Cheetah finished third, with Flying Zee Stable’s Belle Watling, also a Beverly D. nominee, a length farther back in fourth.