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HORSE RACING

Nakatani Wins Shoemaker and 3,000th Race

May 30, 2006|Bob Mieszerski | Times Staff Writer

Memorial Day turned out to be, well, memorable for jockey Corey Nakatani.

Not only did Nakatani win the $321,000 Shoemaker Breeders' Cup Mile for the fourth time in 11 years on 6-1 shot Aragorn, he won three other races Monday at Hollywood Park to give him 3,000 in a career that began in 1988.

A 4-year-old Irish-bred son of Giant's Causeway, Aragorn turned in the performance of his life to beat a talented field in the Grade I.

Trained by Neil Drysdale for breeder Ballygallon Stud Ltd., Aragorn stalked the slow pace set by Willow O Wisp for most of the trip, then kicked away in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths. The final time over the extremely fast turf course was 1:32.94, not far off the record of 1:32.64 set 12 years earlier by Megan's Interco.

In winning for the third time in 10 starts, Aragorn ran his last quarter of a mile in less than 23 seconds. It was his second graded stakes victory in this country. He had won the Oak Tree Derby, a Grade II, by a nose Oct. 15 at Santa Anita.

"He's just a tremendous horse," Nakatani said. "He's always laid his body down every time you ask him.

"I just wanted to be patient wherever I was. I could tell that he was full of run. When I asked him the question, he took off. It was awesome.

"It feels great [to reach 3,000]. I've got a long ways to go. I'm a perfectionist and I want to do the best that I can."

Charmo, who had finished one length in front of Aragorn when winning the San Francisco Breeders' Cup Mile on April 29 at Golden Gate Fields, finished second and Silent Name, the 19-10 favorite who had won his first two races in the U.S., was third.

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Jockey Victor Espinoza, who wasn't able to ride Film Maker because of a minor foot problem, wound up instead on Shining Energy for the $349,500 Gamely Breeders' Cup, and all she did was score a 6-1 upset in the Grade I at Hollywood Park.

The 4-year-old Rahy filly used a strong late run to power by pacesetter Dancing Edie and five others. In winning for the fifth time in 15 starts, she ran the 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:46.86 while winning by 1 3/4 lengths for owners Terry Lanni and Bernie Schiappa. She is trained by Julio Canani, who won the Gamely for a second time.

"I honestly believed a mile and an eighth was a little too far, but her mother [Miss Universal] won a stakes at a mile and a quarter," Canani said.

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Silver Train, the 2-1 favorite, returned to his favorite venue -- Belmont Park -- and responded with a win by a head over 6-1 shot Sun King in the $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap.

Winning for the fourth time in six starts on the main track and for the first time since he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint there Oct. 29, the 4-year-old Old Trieste colt won the Grade I in 1:34.27 under jockey Edgar Prado.

Silver Train, owned by Buckram Oak Farm and trained by Rick Dutrow Jr., surpassed $1 million in earnings with the $360,000 prize.

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In other stakes of note, Sol Mi Fa, a 5-1 shot, won the $100,000 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Oaks; Silverfoot, the even-money choice, won the $100,000 Louisville Handicap for a third consecutive year at Churchill Downs; and Magnum, the 6-5 favorite, won the $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas.

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