10/26/2004 11:00PM

Nakatani expects a big day at BC


ARCADIA, Calif. - No stranger to brash statements, jockey Corey Nakatani has a firm goal for Saturday's Breeders' Cup program at Lone Star Park.

"I'm looking forward to winning them all," he said, smiling.

Nakatani was only half-kidding. He is one of only three jockeys, along with Edgar Prado and John Velazquez, in a position to accomplish a nearly impossible feat. All three have mounts in all eight Breeders' Cup races.

More realistically, Nakatani has a chance to win two or three stakes on American racing's richest day. A winless day would be a profound disappointment to him.

Nakatani has two morning-line favorites - Roman Ruler in the Juvenile and Sweet Catomine in the Juvenile Fillies. His other mounts are the longshots Blackdoun (Mile), Dynever (Classic), Elloluv (Distaff), Megahertz (Filly and Mare Turf), Pt's Grey Eagle (Sprint), and Strut the Stage (Turf). Blackdoun and Elloluv are considered by many to be live horses.

The full lineup comes at a time when Nakatani is leading the jockey standings at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, following a riding title at Del Mar in the summer. He also is fighting a 30-day ban issued earlier this year for causing interference in a race at Santa Anita.

Through Sunday at the Oak Tree meeting, Nakatani had 19 wins, which gave him a one-win lead on Victor Espinoza and a five-win lead on Tyler Baze and Rene Douglas. Those other three riders are also riding the Breeders' Cup program.

Nakatani did not ride Wednesday, but was booked on mounts at Santa Anita on Thursday. He will spend Friday at Lone Star Park, but does not ride that day, and will return to California for the final day of the Oak Tree meeting on Sunday. He is not sure whether he can hold his lead in the standings.

"If I was here, I think I would win the title," he said. "When you do the traveling and miss three days, and you don't ride the number that Victor Espinoza or Rene Douglas rides, it's hard to stay on top.

"People know that I'm a good rider. You don't want to miss the big races all over the country, but you want to be leading rider. It's hard to juggle the two."

Nakatani is 10th on the Breeders' Cup all-time list with five wins, the most recent of which was Silic in the 1999 Mile. He won three consecutive Sprints from 1996-98, with Lit de Justice, Elmhurst, and Reraise.

Sweet Catomine, Blackdoun, and Elloluv are three mounts that he expects to run well on Saturday.

Nakatani rode Sweet Catomine for the first time this month when she won the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita.

"I believe she's definitely champion 2-year-old filly of this year," he said. "I was in awe of her when I sat on her."

Blackdoun is unbeaten in three starts in the United States, all stakes at Del Mar. Nakatani was aboard for the three wins, including the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. In that race, Blackdoun rallied from 10th on the final turn to win by a neck.

"There's an aura with horses like that," Nakatani said. "I thrive on horses that have that kind of kick. You really don't have an understanding by just watching it. When you're on their back, it's like driving a Ferrari."

Nakatani was second on Elloluv in the 2003 BC Distaff. He was aboard for her six-furlong breeze in 1:11.40 last Sunday at Hollywood Park.

"I know she's doing better than last year," Nakatani said.

Nakatani has never won the Classic, and was third aboard Dynever last year.

Nakatani traveled to The Meadowlands to ride Dynever to a runner-up finish in the Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 8.

"He's fresh and he's coming into the race nicely," Nakatani said. "The Meadowlands Cup was a perfect prep. I'll probably be in a stalking position and have Pleasantly Perfect in my sights. I think there is legitimate pace with Azeri in there."

The suspension has overshadowed some of Nakatani's success in recent months. Last week, Santa Anita stewards issued Nakatani a suspension for the first 30 days of the upcoming Santa Anita winter-spring meeting - Dec. 26 to Feb. 3.

It marked the third time he has received dates for the suspension, which is for causing interference in a turf race at Santa Anita last March.

Nakatani appealed the initial set of dates - March 18 to April 28 - but lost the appeal at a hearing held at Del Mar in August. The penalty was reassigned by Santa Anita stewards from Oct. 10 through Nov. 7, with the exception of Breeders' Cup Day, but Nakatani received a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court in early October that allowed him to continue riding through Oct. 14. He lost a subsequent court action last week, which prompted the latest ruling.

Nakatani and his agent, Nick Cosato, have vowed to fight the dates of the suspension. Nakatani has hired attorney Matt Geragos to fight the case.

"I don't agree with the penalty that they've given me," Nakatani said. "I know my attorney is not happy with it."

For one day on Saturday, that will not be on his mind.

Matriarch for Dance in the Mood

Dance in the Mood, the Japanese-based filly who finished second in the $750,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park in July, will return to California for the $500,000 Matriarch Stakes on Nov. 28, Hollywood Park officials announced this week.

The Grade 1 Matriarch, run at a mile on turf for fillies and mares, is part of the six-race Autumn Turf Festival, which includes three Grade 1 races.

Dance in the Mood is booked to arrive on Nov. 17.

In the American Oaks, Dance in the Mood finished second to Ticker Tape, who subsequently won the Grade 3 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park and the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Ticker Tape is also possible for the Matriarch.

Since the American Oaks, Dance in the Mood has finished fourth in a Grade 1 race in Japan at 1 1/4 miles. She is unbeaten in three starts at a mile on turf.