05/30/2010 11:00PM

Victor's Cry gives Nakatani happy homecoming


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A return visit to Southern California for Monday's $250,000 provided jockey Corey Nakatani with his biggest win of the year aboard the longshot Victor's Cry.

Nakatani, who rode in Southern California until last October and has ridden in Arkansas and Kentucky earlier this year, scored his first graded stakes win of 2010 aboard Victor's Cry in the Grade 1 Shoemaker.

Nakatani needed a clear path in the final quarter-mile, and a willing closer in Victory's Cry ($44.40), to catch 9-5 favorite Karelian right at the wire and win by a head.

"I tried to time it as best I could," Nakatani said.

Victor's Cry, who races for Bob and Michele Billings's Equilete Stable and trainer Eoin Harty, ran a mile on turf in 1:32.88.

Victor's Cry was in the rear half of the field in the first half-mile, racing behind pacesetter Mr Gruff, who set an early pace of 23.08 and 46.05 seconds. After six furlongs in 1:09.20, Victor's Cry was still sixth, 3 1/4 lengths off the lead. Nakatani was able to find space between horses entering the stretch and benefited when the pacesetters began to falter in the final furlong.

"Turning for home, I thought I needed a spot to run," Nakatani said. "They kind of squirted away. I waited a while so when I called on him he was there. My job was to keep him out of trouble."

Karelian, who won stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and Keeneland earlier this year, was unlucky to lose, and finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of pacesetter Mr Gruff, who was racing beyond 6 1/2 furlongs on turf for the first time in his career.

Jockey Rafael Bejarano said he thought Karelian held on.

"I thought I'd beat him," he said. "I saw [Victor's Cry] was coming, but my horse tried to the end."

Mr Gruff was followed by Gallant Son, Golden Balls, Global Hunter, Compari, Tangled Tango, and Blue Chagall. Compari's loss marked the end of a six-race winning streak that included four stakes wins. In the Shoemaker, Compari broke from the outside in the field of nine, raced wide on the first turn and was steadied on the second turn.

"He just had a rough trip from the get-go," trainer Marty Jones said. "Sometimes that happens."

Harty said the Grade 2 American Handicap on July 4 could be Victor's Cry's next start. The 5-year-old horse, by Street Cry, has won 5 of 17 starts and $350,633.

Evening Jewel holds on in Honeymoon

This time, the photo finish went in Evening Jewel's favor.

Four weeks after losing the Kentucky Oaks by a nose to Blind Luck, held off a late threat from Cozi Rosie to win Monday's .

Allowed to set a moderate pace of 24.97 and 50.29 seconds under jockey Victor Espinoza, Evening Jewel ($3.80) ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:48.87, winning by a head.

The Grade 2 Honeymoon was Evening Jewel's first start on turf.

"It's a big load off my mind," winning trainer Jim Cassidy said. "When you're supposed to win, it's more pressure."

At the top of the stretch, the result seemed in doubt. Even though Evening Jewel ran the first six furlongs in a slow 1:14.52, Andina, who was second at the time, and Cozi Rosie, who was closing from fourth, appeared to be threats. But Evening Jewel kept her lead, winning the third stakes of her career.

Evening Jewel won the California Breeders' Champion Stakes last December and the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland in April. Owned by Tom and Marilyn Braly, Evening Jewel has won 4 of 10 starts and $606,943.

City to City, who won the Grade 2 Providencia Stakes in April and was third to Cozi Rosie in the Senorita Stakes on May 2, finished third in the field of seven.

Triple Cream and Andina finished in a dead heat for fourth.

Proctor Memorial: J P's Gusto scores

J P's Gusto scored a commanding win, the first victory of his career, in the for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park.

Ridden by Joe Talamo, J P's Gusto stalked pacesetter, and 1-5 favorite, Belleofthebridle to early stretch, took the lead with a two-wide move and pulled clear late to win by 4 1/2 lengths. J P's Gusto ($10.40) ran 5 1-2 furlongs in a quick 1:02.97.

Belleofthebridle, the only filly in a field of seven, held second, finishing 9 1/4 lengths clear of Edgewick Road.

J P's Gusto, a ridgling by Successful Appeal, finished a troubled sixth in his debut here on May 9 in a maiden race behind Edgewick Road. Owned by Gem, Inc., J P's Gusto has earned $37,360.