History-making Lava Man returns to action in the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) Oct. 7 during the Oak Tree meeting at Santa Anita Park, where he will face a field that includes Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo and Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) hero Brother Derek.The $500,000 event at 1 1/8 miles is the final major prep race for the trio prior to the $5 Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) Nov.4 at Churchill Downs.Corey Nakatani wouldn't change places with anyone. The regular rider of Lava Man, winner of six consecutive races, says the former claiming horse is "probably the best horse I've ever ridden.""It's important that a rider has good rapport with a horse, no doubt," said Nakatani. The rider's victories aboard Lava Man this year include the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), and the Pacific Classic (gr. I), making the 5-year-old California-bred gelding the only horse to win all three in the same year. He also has three $1 million victories in 2006: the Big 'Cap, the Pacific Classic, and the Sunshine Millions Classic."I let him do what he wants to do and stay out of his way," Nakatani said. "You can take the race to him and he can pick it up and keeps running. Those are the kind you want. He's probably the best that I've ridden."Nakatani, who will be 36 on Oct. 21, has won on Rock Hard Ten, Sweet Catomine, Roman Ruler, Lit de Justice, Reraise, Sharp Cat, Serena's Song, and General Challenge.Lava Man worked six furlongs Saturday at Hollywood Park in 1:15 3/5. "It was fantastic," Doug O'Neill said. "He worked in company and started slow but then it snowballed. All systems are go."Brother Derek worked five furlongs Sunday at Santa Anita in company with Takk. Brother Derek was timed in :59 2/5, breezing, under Francisco Alvarado, while Takk was caught in 1:00.
"He went real nice and easy," trainer Dan Hendricks said. "He picked it up around the turn, and it was just what we needed."Giacomo worked six furlongs in company with A.P. Xcellent at Santa Anita in a bullet 1:11 2/5. A.P. Xcellent was clocked in 1:12."The work was good," trainer John Shirreffs said of the son of Holy Bull whose only win since the Derby came in the San Diego Handicap (gr. II) at Del Mar on July 22.