09/25/2008 12:00AM

Nakatani out with arm injury


ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Corey Nakatani suffered a collarbone injury in a spill at Santa Anita on Wednesday that is expected to leave him sidelined for the pivotal Breeders' Cup prep races this weekend, according to his agent, Ron Ebanks.

Nakatani was scheduled to see a doctor on Thursday to determine the extent of the injury. He was unseated from Easy on the Eye shortly after the start of Wednesday's Grade 3 Morvich Handicap after his mount appeared to clip heels. Nakatani rose to his feet after the spill, but then laid down on the turf course where he was attended to by ambulance personnel.

On Thursday, Nakatani told Ebanks, "I know it's fractured. I can hardly lift" my arm. Nakatani was not available for comment early Thursday afternoon.

Ebanks said that X-rays taken at a local hospital on Wednesday were inconclusive. Ebanks said that Nakatani complained of discomfort in his shoulder after the spill.

"It could be the old fracture is where the pain is coming from," Ebanks said. "It's very unfortunate."

Earlier this year, Nakatani was sidelined for approximately two months after suffering a collarbone injury in a spill during morning workouts at Hollywood Park.

Nakatani was off his mounts on Thursday and Friday. He has seven mounts on Saturday, including Vacare in the $400,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes, In Summation in the $250,000 Ancient Title Stakes, and Spring House in the $250,000 Clement Hirsch Turf Championship.

California Flag wins and is in

California Flag earned an automatic berth to the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 with a three-length win in course record time in the $112,500 Morvich Handicap on Wednesday.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, California Flag ($47.40) led throughout the race on the hillside turf course, covering the about 6 1/2-furlong distance in 1:11.10. Owned by Keith Card, California Flag won the first stakes of his career in the Morvich. A 4-year-old gelding by Avenue of Flags, California Flag has won 4 of 11 starts and $193,216.

Trainer Brian Koriner said he was looking forward to trying California Flag in the BC Turf Sprint over the same course and distance as the Morvich. "When they run that fast, why would you not," he said.

Get Funky, the 9-5 favorite, finished second in the Morvich, a head in front of One Union. Get Funky is a candidate for the Turf Sprint.

California Flag has won 3 of his last 4 starts, since being gelded, all turf sprints. He won an allowance race for statebreds at Hollywood Park in July and an optional claimer at Del Mar in August.

Attendance up, wagering down

Wednesday's opening day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting had mixed business results.

Ontrack attendance was 17,191, a gain of 14 percent over the corresponding day in 2007. But handle was lower. Ontrack handle of $2,215,994 marked a decline of 11 percent.

All-sources handle was $9,167,961, according to Oak Tree executive vice president Sherwood Chillingworth. The figure includes simulcasting from inter-track and interstate locations as well as account wagering sources. The figure was down 3 percent from the 2007 opening day.

"We were really pleased with the attendance increase ontrack," Chillingworth said. "The ontrack handle was way down. I think it's a reflection of what's happening everywhere" in the economy.

Chillingworth said he is hoping for success on Saturday, a program that features six Grade 1 races, a shirt giveaway and a $1 million guaranteed pick six pool. "If this doesn't move the needle, I don't know what will," he said.

Tropic Storm for Awesome Gem in Mile

The West Point Thoroughbred syndicate and trainer Craig Dollase have called an audible for Sunday's $250,000 Oak Tree Mile.

Tropic Storm, third in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs on Aug. 17, was supplemented to the Oak Tree Mile for $4,000 and is likely to start in place of Awesome Gem.

Awesome Gem was entered in the Grade 2 Oak Tree Mile, which is run on turf. Dollase said that Awesome Gem is more likely to start in Saturday's $200,000 All American Stakes at Golden Gate Fields.

Sunday's Grade 1, $250,000 Norfolk Stakes, a key prep to the BC Juvenile on Oct. 25, offers the first meeting of California's top two juveniles - Azul Leon and Midshipman. Azul Leon won the Hollywood Juvenile in June and finished second in the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar. He was promoted to first in the Best Pal when race winner Kelly Leak was disqualified for causing interference. Midshipman won the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity on Sept. 3 in his stakes debut.

The Norfolk will be the first start at 1 1/16 miles for both colts.