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Nakatani glad to be back at Del Mar

Photo: Sarah Andrew

Corey Nakatani, No. 2 on Del Mar’s all-time jockey stakes victory list, is back after being based in the East for 15 months and hoping to add to his victory totals.

Nakatani, 41, has 96 Del Mar stakes victories, among them multiples in such major events as the Eddie Read (5), Bing Crosby (5), Pat O’Brien (4) and Del Mar Derby (4). He also guided Lava Man to victory in the 2006 Pacific Classic and Winning Pact in the 1993 Futurity.

Nakatani’s 96 stakes wins from 1991 to 2009 are one more than Laffit Pincay Jr. and Alex Solis; two ahead of Eddie Delahoussaye and Bill Shoemaker – all of them retired except Solis – but 38 behind retired leader Chris McCarron.

“If feels great to be back,” Nakatani said Tuesday morning before riding a workout for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. “I had some great opportunities and rode for some great outfits back East. I thank them for that, but my family here is the main reason I’m coming home.”

Nakatani lives in the L.A. suburb of LaVerne. His wife Lisa is a registered nurse working at Arcadia Methodist Hospital across the street from Santa Anita. They have a 3-year-old daughter, Lilah.

“Hearing my daughter on the phone saying ‘Daddy, when are you coming home?’ and making the  commute (cross country on off days from racing) has been tough,” Nakatani said.

Nakatani also has four children from a previous marriage: Brittany, 20, Matthew, 19, Austin, 18, and Taylor, 14. Matthew is a kicker for the University of Louisville football team.

Nakatani’s agent is Brian Beach, who is also booking mounts for Yuichi Fukunaga, the top rider in Japan who has relocated to Southern California for the summer.

“Hopefully we’ll get some good chances with good barns,  so I can go after McCarron and cut that lead down,” Nakatani said. “I feel like I’m wiser and I’ve matured a lot and hopefully, like a good wine, I’m getting better with age.”



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