05/01/2016 7:41PM

Nakatani considers retiring from riding

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


Chuck Hajjar 9 months ago
He has long been my favorite rider. I have won more races especially turf races at Delmar with Corey on board. The main reason I love him is around 1999, 2000 we singled him on a horse called Grady at Delmar, a Mike Mitchell horse in a pick 6. He won at 10-1. It was the last race of the pick 6.  I had 5 partners but we won $120K my biggest win ever. I guess he has issues but he can ride as good as anyone. I think he won by a nose.
Pete Sundar More than 1 year ago
Long plagued by drug issues.    Nick Zito euphimistically put it best, "Corey is not right.".  And therein lies Corey Nakatani's problem !! 
Gary Smith More than 1 year ago
Make that Weight issues....never had Any problems with Drugs!
21flat More than 1 year ago
Average rider , but had a decent career , he has always been his own worst enemy , pushing riders off horses , fighting etc, hard to feel sorry for him. Why does he think he deserves to ride for those top outfits instead of the riders that are currently riding for them ? Who are in most cases more talented than him and don't endanger their fellow riders . Corey should be thanking all the trainers that rode him instead of whining and sounding bitter. You got more opportunity than you deserved and you blew a lot of it.
realgooddogtoo More than 1 year ago
He should retire long time ago, he's lucky some trainers still give him some horses to ride, I wouldn't put him on not even in the billy goat tied to a post.
cg4parts More than 1 year ago
You pushed a fellow rider off his horse after losing a race  (and were sued for assault), Ryan Barber? remember? And if i'm not mistaken, you pushed a second rider off his mount some months later after another fit of  "everyone hates me!"
You were suspended for whipping a horse after  the finish-line, causing the horse to break down. A Mike Mitchell horse, as I recall.

Yeah, go "flip"
( houses, i mean.)
See what a regular- paying job is like.
William More than 1 year ago
About time. Lost favor with trainers and owners years ago.
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
Charles Sanford More than 1 year ago
I would like make one more comment about this event... in pass four years I have picked the derby winner...I think its because I pick my horses  late in the summer and stay with him until 2wks before the derby.....and here I go down the stretch ......The quarter pole is my deciding factor for all the horses I chose!! and the patients of the rider in... all of the horses previous races.
Richard Kennedy More than 1 year ago
Charles Sanford More than 1 year ago
I can't stand some fans comments....These little men are always going to be my Champion , they are only as good as horse they ride , I have seen the best rider American riders from 1960 to this day and this coming Saturday , I will see best of that day ride for the roses in person... may they all have have a good trip to the wire....But there is one young rider I have notice has the patient of a Pat Day and skill of a Shoemaker on a horse that ,we haven't seen the bottom of !!
Justin Glagola More than 1 year ago
And who is this one young rider you are speaking of?
Greg Mccurry More than 1 year ago
Loved Corey on the Jockies Program? Its been year s Since I followed Your Mounts I think You Rode Bluegrass Cat? I will be Sorry To see You Go? At Least You did Not Suffer The way Randy Romero Or Rene Douglas Did?You were not in My Tracks? They all Come and They go Just like Pat Val,Jerry Bailey I heard Mike Smith is Slowing Down?Jose vSAntos and Pat Day are gone?I missed dEdie Dehlosse Before my Time?