02/15/2014 5:44PM

Aqueduct: Nakatani picks up mount on Uncle Sigh for Gotham

Barbara D. Livingston
Corey Nakatani (above) will replace Pablo Morales aboard Uncle Sigh for the Gotham Stakes.

Corey Nakatani will ride Withers Stakes runner-up Uncle Sigh in the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham Stakes on March 1 at Aqueduct, replacing Pablo Morales, trainer Gary Contessa said Saturday.

Contessa said the decision, made in tandem with owner Chip McEwen - who races under the moniker Wounded Warrior Stable - was to go with a more experienced rider and was “no knock whatsoever on Pablo Morales,” Contessa added.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Nakatani, 43, has ridden 3,687 winners but is winless with 16 mounts in the Kentucky Derby. Morales, 25, has never ridden in the Derby.

“Nakatani rides for Wounded Warrior in California,” Contessa said. “We have no complaints with Pablo. Nakatani’s been there, he’s a good friend of mine, a good friend of the owner. Hopefully, we picked somebody who can stay with him all the way through.”

Uncle Sigh, a New York-bred son of Indian Charlie, has 1 win from 3 starts. He was beaten one length by Samraat in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes on Feb. 1.

Contessa said he is hoping to work Uncle Sigh on Monday or Tuesday, depending on condition of the Belmont Park training track. Inclement weather has forced the New York Racing Association to cancel training from Thursday through Saturday.

“As hard as this horse ran in the Withers I don’t feel like he’s missing anything,” said Contessa, who added that he doesn’t want to miss too much more time or else he might have to skip the Gotham and point for a race out of town like the Tampa Bay Derby or Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Meanwhile, Withers winner Samraat worked four furlongs in 49.30 seconds Saturday morning at Palm Meadows. Trainer Rick Violette said he wanted to work the undefeated colt one more time before deciding where Samraat would make his next start.


James Cardinale More than 1 year ago
It's a shamePablo can't ride back he did. NOTHING wrong....Give the kid another shot Contessa......
Ron Solberg More than 1 year ago
corey is very good and he will do his best, but why not give this new guy a try.besides he dont have much of a chance to pick up another derby horse and leave you in the dark because he go with someone else.pablo might suprise you and come thru nice.. give the guy a chance.
Walter More than 1 year ago
It a race in March, what's Corey gonna miss? A couple of rides in mid level claimers @ SA? Of course he takes a shot, sees what the horse has and hopefully has options for himself in April/May
Thomas Atwell More than 1 year ago
Where's 85 in a 50 your other next coming...I can't believe Nakatani and his agent are this stupid to come ride this horse the Withers was the weakest field ever assembled Violettes horse is also unproven .Hey Contessa why don't you see if Bailey is available....If this owner was smart he would be giving this horse to Pletcher,Mott,or Chad Brown......
WWW More than 1 year ago
Contessa did train Peace Rules as a 2 yr old......until they sold him and the master took over
Rufus More than 1 year ago
He also ruined Eightyfiveinafifty by deciding ge was his Derby horse despite a dosage above 8. Yikes!!!
Thomas Atwell More than 1 year ago
Contessa run this horse where he belongs NW2 ny bred.You are not Pletcher or the Babe...
Tom More than 1 year ago
How do you figure that. That was a great race he ran. Looks a lot like Funny Cide! He is bred to get 1-1/4. Ran hard every step of the way. He's a big player going forward. Nakatani ain't coming for a NW2. Also Aqueduct is a slow track!!
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Is Nakatani crazy? It's Gon Be Cold! =P
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Contessa said, "hopefully we picked somebody who can stay with him all the way through." Translation, we hope Shared Belief does not make it to the Derby or has Nakatani's agent told them something about Shared Belief that the public does not know.
WWW More than 1 year ago
no worries, Pablo....this horse will be running in a 25k NW2L claimer come September
joe d More than 1 year ago
hey!! dont be knocking those ny state breds!!! lol
joe d More than 1 year ago
"no knock on pablo morales" contessa says. lol. morales cant get arrested in a police station. they must like this horse bringing in cory from cali.yeah
Rick Baldwin More than 1 year ago
Experience is the best teacher & Pablo could catch Derby Fever & not deliver.
William More than 1 year ago
Any one remember Steve Cauthen !!!!! Pablo Morales have his lucky charm too.