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Nakatani back at full strength
DEL MAR, Calif. - For much of the past five years, jockey Corey Nakatani has spent as much time in the doctor's office as at the racetrack - fractured vertebra, dislocated ankle, fractured collarbone, er, collarbones. Yet he has come back strong this summer at Del Mar, appears healthier than ever, and last weekend moved into second place all-time in stakes wins at Del Mar by guiding Global Hunter to victory in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes.
That gave Nakatani two stakes wins the first week of the meet, which gives him 96 all-time at Del Mar. He entered the meet tied with Eddie Delahoussaye and Bill Shoemaker for stakes wins at Del Mar, and one back of Laffit Pincay Jr. Chris McCarron, with a Beamonesque 134 stakes wins here, is No. 1.
"So many things have happened to get to this point," Nakatani said. "I was out about six months last year. I feel good now. When I first came back, I was heavier than where I am now. I'm back where I want to be physically."
Nakatani is one of the strongest riders on the circuit. Last year, though, he broke a collarbone in February, then did it again in September. Nearly a year later, he looks as good as he has in years.
"I'm 38. You can put 28 if you want," he said. "I feel like I'm 28."
Nakatani always has done well at Del Mar. He got his first stakes win here in 1991. He led the meet in the summers of 1994, 1998, and 2004. He has been particularly effective on the turf here. He has won the Eddie Read five times and the John Mabee (formerly the Ramona) four times.
Last year, though, still fighting back from his spring-time injuries, he won just 11 races to finish 14th in the standings.
"I'm healthy again," he said. "It's taken a long time to get to this point."
Carlsbad topweight in San Clemente
Carlsbad, winner of the Hollywood Oaks, will be racing on turf for the first time on Saturday when she carries high weight in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at one mile.
Carlsbad was assigned 120 pounds, two more than Acting Lady. Mrs. Kipling also was assigned 118 pounds, but she is out until the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita, according to her trainer, Neil Drysdale.
In addition to Acting Lady and Carlsbad, others pointing to the San Clemente include Burg Berg, Fastongrass, Hameildaeme, Internallyflawless, Kaweah Princess, Nan, Oilgonewile, Starlarks, Strawberry Tart, Third Dawn, and Wake Me Now.
Rider hurt, horse euthanized
Exercise rider Jorge Soto was taken to Scripps Hospital in nearby La Jolla on Tuesday morning after being injured when his mount, the filly Maggie and Hopie, suffered a catastrophic fracture in the homestretch during a workout.
Soto was complaining of shoulder pain, according to Jack Carava, the trainer of Maggie and Hopie.
"It didn't seem bad, but he was complaining of shoulder pain, so he went to the hospital to be examined," Carava said.
The accident happened just before the mid-morning renovation break. Because the ambulance was away from the track transporting Soto, the track's reopening for training was delayed, for safety's sake, until the ambulance returned. The track normally reopens just after 8 a.m, but it was not until 8:25 a.m. that horses were allowed back on the track.
Maggie and Hopie, 4, most recently had won a $25,000 claiming race at Hollywood Park on July 4. Carava said she had to be euthanized because of her injuries.
Maggie and Hopie is the fifth horse to be euthanized at Del Mar in the past 10 days. Three were the result of incidents in races, two in workouts.
Synthetic track suits Millennia
Lisa Lewis could only laugh at her initial candor. Asked if she expected the 2-year-old filly Millennia to win first time out on Sunday, she said, "No."
She quickly added, in a joking manner, "Yes, of course I did. She was training super."
Millennia's win might have been a surprise in that she prevailed in a 5 1/2-furlong race - "I thought she'd want to go farther," Lewis said - but from a pedigree standpoint, she was intriguing. Millennia, a daughter of Milwaukee Brew, is out of the Regal Classic mare Sararegal, who produced the synthetic-surface specialist Fatal Bullet, runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint.
The Vision Racing stable of owners Brandon Perry and John Stephens sent the filly to Lewis.
"That's the whole idea of why she's out here, to run her on the synthetic surfaces," Lewis said.
Lewis said that Black Astor, whom she brought back from a lengthy layoff to win the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on July 19, would make his next start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Del Mar Handicap on turf Aug. 30.
Tiny Woods may leave town
Tiny Woods, who ran to notices when winning his debut in a maiden 2-year-old race Saturday, may head out of town for a stakes race, trainer Bob Baffert said.
"This isn't his kind of track," Baffert said. "The track is more demanding than last year."
Tiny Woods, a colt by Roman Ruler, is part of the Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, which has placed horses with Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, and Nick Zito.
"There's always pressure," Baffert said. "Any time you have a horse you know is talented, you get nervous first time out."
Dewey's Special to wait for Cal Cup
Dewey's Special, who won his third straight race since returning from a one-year layoff when capturing the $100,000 California Dreamin' Handicap for older California-bred turf horses on Sunday, may not run again until the California Cup at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting on Oct. 3, trainer Ron Ellis said.
"He's a little, tiny horse who runs his heart out," Ellis said.
Dewey's Special, 4, has now won 4 times in 10 starts. Dewey's Special, a gelding by Skimming, was off the track from April 2008 until May of this year because of an injured tendon in his left front leg.
"It was minor," said Ellis, who credited owner Dustin Moore with giving Dewey's Special time to recover. "Fortunately, we caught it early and gave him plenty of time."
Meydan Princess eyeing Palomar
Meydan Princess, who came charging through a narrow opening along the rail at midstretch and got up in time to take the $94,870 Osunitas Handicap for older female turf horses on Sunday, may make her next start in the Grade 2, $200,000 Palomar Handicap Sept. 9, closing day of the meeting, trainer Jim Cassidy said.
Cassidy has had high hopes for Meydan Princess since importing her from Great Britain, but the Osunitas marked her first win in five starts in this country. She prevailed in large part because of a gorgeous, ground-saving trip under David Flores.
"I always thought she was a good filly," Cassidy said. "She's not a coward, this filly. She misses the first jump out of the gate, but she's got a great kick."
* Zensational, who won the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park in his last start, flew six furlongs in 1:10.80 on Tuesday morning for Baffert in preparation for the Gradeo1, $300,000 Bing Crosby Handicap on Aug. 8.