For the second time in three years, jockey Corey Nakatani won the riding title at Oak Tree, defeating Del Mar champion Victor Espinoza, 24-20, as the 26-day meet at Santa Anita concluded Sunday.
Nakatani also won more stakes races than any rider, earning his eighth when directing 2-1 favorite Beautyandthebeast to a head decision over 5-2 second choice Clinet in the Grade II $150,000 Las Palmas Handicap.
The win was the second in less than a month for the 4-year-old Machiavellian filly, who had won the restricted Swingtime by the same margin on Oct. 4. Owned by breeder Neil Jones’ Abergwaun Farm and trained by Neil Drysdale, Beautyandthebeast ran the mile on turf in 1:33.33.
“It’s always special to win a riding title,” said Nakatani. “I’ve got to thank the horsemen, the owners, the trainers, the groom, the fans and my agent [Tom Knust] for the opportunity. It seems every single race comes down to a head or a nose and makes you work really hard. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy it.”
The Las Palmas was the fourth stakes victory at the meet for Drysdale, tops among trainers. The Hall of Famer indicated Beautyandthebeast will make her next start in the $500,000 Matriarch on Nov. 26 at Hollywood Park.
“It was a beautiful ride, very well timed,” said Drysdale. “She can wait [on horses] a little bit when she gets up there.”
The other stakes race on the card, the Grade III $100,000 Morvich, was far from form.
Moth Ball, the second-longest shot in the field of nine at nearly 34-1, edged 8-1 shot and pacesetter Apalachee Tiger by a neck to win the Grade III race. The victory ended a long losing streak for the 4-year-old Royal Applause gelding. He had been winless in 13 races since the beginning of 2005.
Ridden by Michael Baze, Moth Ball ran the about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf in 1:11.61 for trainer Jim Cassidy, who co-owns the English bred with Deron Pearson. Rebel Rebel, the 2-1 favorite, finished eighth in his first start since he finished second to Becrux in the Grade I Woodbine Mile last month in Canada.
“I know this horse is a little bit nervous, but it was a perfect trip,” said Baze, 19, who won his second graded stakes in eight days. The cousin of Tyler Baze had a wire-to-wire win in the Carleton F. Burke on Oct. 21. “I just let him break, let him settle and rode him down the lane and got the best of it.”
Jockey Garrett Gomez won both of the stakes races Sunday on the first day of Churchill Downs’ fall meet.
Tiz Wonderful, a 2-year-old Tiznow colt, easily won the $100,000 Iroquois about an hour before Change Up won the $100,000 Pocahontas.
Tiz Wonderful, a 12 1/2 -length winner in his bow on Sept. 2 at Saratoga for Stonestreet Stable LLC and trainer Scott Blasi, won the Grade III race on Sunday by 6 3/4 lengths as the 9-10 favorite. He ran the mile in 1:35.92.
Change Up, owned by Richard Bertram and Elaine Klein and trained by Steve Flint, won for the third time in five starts.
The daughter of Distorted Humor and the 2-1 choice ran the mile in 1:35.97, finishing two lengths ahead of runner-up Mistical Plan, the winner of the Cover Gal three weeks earlier at Santa Anita for owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O’Neill.
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* Dates: Wednesday-Dec. 18 (36 days).
* Post times: 12:30 p.m. with the following exceptions -- 8:15 a.m. (Saturday, first Breeders’ Cup simulcast from Churchill Downs; first live race 10:30 a.m.); 7:05 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 17; 11 a.m. on Nov. 23.
* Significant races: $400,000 Citation Handicap (Nov. 24); $500,000 Hollywood Derby (Nov. 26); $500,000 Matriarch (Nov. 26); $250,000 Hollywood Turf Cup (Dec. 9); $250,000 Hollywood Futurity (Dec. 16) and $250,000 Hollywood Starlet (Dec. 17).
* Leading jockey (2005 meet): Martin Pedroza (27 wins).
* Leading trainer (2005 meet): Jeff Mullins (13 wins).