Although he has had 13 Kentucky Derby mounts, the winning prize has eluded 38-year-old Corey Nakatani. Not so honors in other racing events, from riding titles at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Oak Tree, to seven Breeders' Cup victories. Nakatani, who began riding in 1988 by winning his first race at Caliente, is the regular rider for the Doug O'Neill-trained Lava Man and has won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) twice - in 1991 and 1996. In this year's Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), he rides Colonel John for trainer Eoin Harty.
Career wins: 3,273
Born: Oct. 21, 1970, Covina, Calif.
Residence: Glendora, Calif.
Family: wife Lisa, Brittany, Matthew, Austin, stepdaughter Taylor
Favorite sport: “I like all sports, I golf and used to be a wrestler.”
Favorite food: "Japanese."
Most Hated Chore: “Picking up after my dog, Luke.”
I can’t live without: “My wife.”
The fastest I’ve ever driven was: “173 miles an hour in a Porsche. My uncle had a heart attack, and I drove to Vegas where he was in the hospital. He went to ER but ended up living. It was real important for me to be there for him. On the way, there was a Corvette next to me going about 160, but he couldn’t keep up when I hit the gas. When we slowed down to do 100 miles an hour, it felt like we were walking. It was weird.”
Another active rider I admire is: “Garrett Gomez and his agent, Ron Anderson. They’re picking all the right horses to ride and he’s making the most of it.”
If I could trade careers with one pro athlete, I would it be: “Tiger Woods.”
One thing I wish people knew about jockeys: “I would like to stress how difficult it is for a guy that’s an athlete and supposed to have all wits about him, to maintain weight. They must understand, the scale of weights is so out of line. You would imagine that the athlete himself on the back of a horse should be able to be hydrated and not taking diuretics. But it’s not easy to try to maintain that weight 102, 112 pounds and stay healthy and strong. The sport needs to address it.”
The best part about winning the Derby this year would be: “Winning for my dad, Roy Nakatani, who passed away. If wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be in this sport.”