05/01/2016 6:41PM

Nakatani considers retiring from riding

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Benoit & Associates
Corey Nakatani, 45, has not ridden since April 7 at Oaklawn Park.

CYPRESS, Calif. - Jockey Corey Nakatani may have ridden his last race.

The veteran jockey, a former leading rider in Southern California, said on Sunday that he is contemplating retirement and is frustrated by a lack of opportunities to gain mounts in leading races in recent seasons. He stopped short of announcing his retirement, saying he would assess the situation in the near future.

“It could be time to call it a day,” Nakatani said. “I’ll play it by ear.”

Nakatani has not ridden since April 7 at Oaklawn Park. He said he has been suffering from pneumonia in recent weeks, but that his condition has improved with ongoing treatment.

Nakatani has not won a stakes since the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar last November, his only graded stakes win last year. He said he has become involved in a business partnership with a field to buy distressed real estate and improve the properties.

 “If I get an opportunity to do something different, I’ll do it,” he said.

“I’m enjoying my time off. If I can’t go out there and have the opportunities for [Bob] Baffert, [Richard] Mandella, [Todd] Pletcher or [Chad] Brown, what’s the point? I know I can ride with anyone in the country.

“Half the outfits I used to ride for are not in the business,” he said, referring specifically to the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel and retired trainer Jenine Sahadi.

Nakatani, 45, has won 10 riding titles at Del Mar, Santa Anita, the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, and at Hollywood Park, which closed in 2013. His most recent title occurred at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting in 2006.

Nakatani was on the ballot for the National Racing Hall of Fame in 2015 but was not selected for induction.

In his career, which began in 1988, Nakatani has won 3,828 races. He won 10 Breeders’ Cup races, including two races at Woodbine in 1996 when the event was held on one day – the Distaff on Jewel Princess and the Sprint on Lit de Justice. His most recent win in a Breeders’ Cup race was aboard Tapizar in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in 2012. He won three consecutive runnings of the BC Sprint from 1996 to 1998.

Internationally, Nakatani has won stakes in Dubai, including the 2001 Golden Shaheen on Caller One, one of 18 career victories in million-dollar races, and at Ascot in England aboard Cool Jazz in the 1995 Diadem Stakes.

He was second in the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Nehro, his best result in the race. Nakatani won the Kentucky Oaks twice – on Lite Light in 1991 and Pike Place Dancer in 1996.

“I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve had a good career,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of riders will get to the level I did.”

- additional reporting by Jay Privman