“We talked about it this morning,” Nakatani said following Saturday's racing card at Santa Anita. “I think it will be a good move for me. I can learn a lot from him.”
Nakatani, 36, is the regular rider of Lava Man and is currently sixth in the Santa Anita jockey standings. He has captured several riding titles on the Southern California circuit since he began riding in 1988 and has piloted such horses as Breeders' Cup winners Thor's Echo and Sweet Catomine.
Stevens, an Eclipse Award-winning rider who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, won most major events throughout the country during his career, including the Kentucky Derby three times -- aboard Silver Charm in 1997, Thunder Gulch in 1995, and Winning Colors in 1988. He is a racing analyst for NBC and TVG.
Stevens was the agent for Luis Jauregui for two days a few years ago before coming out of retirement. He said the association with Nakatani won’t impact his deal with TVG as on-air analyst.
“It has no effect with TVG,” Stevens told the Santa Anita notes team. “Corey and I discussed this, and there’s really no conflict because we’re going to Keeneland (which opens on April 6) and I work Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays with TVG at Keeneland, and I’ll be back for Hollywood Park after the Triple Crown races.
“I’m excited. Corey is obviously a great rider, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working for him. I’ve got a lot of connections, not only here in the United States but throughout the world, so hopefully, those connections will come into play. We’ll ride Liquidity in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and start at Keeneland on Wednesday (April 11).”
Tom Knust, who had represented Nakatani since last year’s Del Mar meet, said the change was “part of the business. Corey’s a great rider and Gary’s very bright and knows the game. I hope it works out for them.”