DEL MAR — Even Corey Nakatani is having a hard time believing the way his meeting is going.
Ten days into the seven-week season, the jockey has six stakes victories and only twice has he failed to win the eighth race. One of the losses was by a head aboard Countus In in the second division of the Palomar Handicap a week ago today.
Bruho, a 5-1 shot, provided Nakatani's latest success Saturday. Fifth after a half-mile in the $107,900 Bing Crosby Handicap, he rallied to defeat Thirty Slews by two lengths in 1:08 1/5 for the six furlongs.
This was the 10th victory in 28 lifetime starts for the 5-year-old Naevus gelding, who has proved a bargain $50,000 claim by owner Joe Scardino, who took Bruho as a 2-year-old.
"He runs tough every time, but his best races for me have been when he's fresh," said trainer Jerry Fanning, who has had Bruho for two of his victories. The majority of them came when he was with Julio Canani.
"He's always raced against real good horses and was always real tough. He's a smart old horse, a fun horse to train and be around. The Pat O'Brien (Aug. 24 at seven furlongs) looks like a good spot. I think three weeks or so should be just about right."
Nakatani hopes his streak is still going then.
"It's the biggest thrill I've ever had," he said. "I'm on a roll. I've only been riding three years and I've never had something like this. It's unbelievable.
"I have to thank (agent) Tony Matos and Itsallgreektome. I don't think things would have broken the way they have if it weren't for that horse. You need a good horse to get you rolling."
Nakatani was disqualified--along with Pat Valenzuela--for an incident in Saturday's seventh race, but it isn't likely to lead to a five-day suspension. He will meet with the stewards this morning.
Making his first start since last November, Thirty Slews finished five lengths ahead of Due To The King, who was a half-length better than Robyn Dancer, the 11-10 favorite.
Next to last out of the gate, Thirty Slews made a huge, but probably premature run to take the lead into the stretch, then wasn't able to hold off Bruho.
"It took a real one to get by me today," Kent Desormeaux said. "When it's your turn, it's your turn. I couldn't ask any more of my horse. Thirty Slews ran his race today."
Robyn Dancer, who won three in a row at Hollywood Park before finishing fifth in the Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel July 20, faded after being part of the pace Saturday.
"He made a nice run around the turn, but then he was trying to get out coming into the stretch," Laffit Pincay said. "He used to try and do that, but he hadn't been doing it lately."
An easy victory in an allowance race Saturday at Arlington Park earned Unbridled a trip to California and a start in Saturday's $1-million Pacific Classic.
Making his first start since bleeding in the Pimlico Special May 11, the winner of the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic won by 6 1/2 lengths at 2-5. Ridden by Pat Day, he covered the seven furlongs in 1:21.
Trainer Carl Nafzger mentioned the Classic as a possibility before Saturday's race and if he comes out of the race in good shape, he will be on his way.
"He started building momentum at the half-mile pole, and at the three-eighths pole, I felt he was too close not to win this race," Nafzger said. "You never really know how a horse has come back until you run him."
Getting ready for the 1 1/4-mile Classic, Itsallgreektome worked seven furlongs in 1:25 3/5 under regular rider Nakatani. Festin worked the same distance in the same time for trainer Ron McAnally in prepping for the eighth leg in the American Championship Racing Series.
Horse Racing Notes
Akinemod, who hasn't started since early in 1990, worked six furlongs in 1:13 3/5 Saturday morning. She is expected to return for trainer Jerry Fanning in the Rancho Bernardo Breeders' Cup Aug. 18. . . . Corey Nakatani and Chris McCarron each rode two winners Saturday.
Mane Minister is the 7-5 favorite for today's feature, the $106,400 La Jolla Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Alex Solis will ride Mane Minister, who is the 120-pound high weight. The rest of the field: Soweto, McCarron, 7-2; Persianalli, Kent Desormeaux, 10-1; Track Monarch, Pat Valenzuela, 2-1; Quaglino, Nakatani, 8-1, and Nijinsky's Prince, Julio Garcia, 10-1.