Victory Number 3000:
After graduating from jockey school in California, Nakatani began his riding career at Caliente in Mexico in the fall of 1988, winning his first race there aboard Blue King in a dead heat. He moved to Southern California in April 1989 and became the leading apprentice rider that year and has won meet titles at Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Del Mar. He won his 3,000th race on May 29, 2006, when he guided Shakin N Dancin to victory in the ninth race at Hollywood Park.
Nakatani has won six Breeders' Cup races, including the Sprint in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Although he hasn't won the Kentucky Derby yet in 12 tries, he has won the Kentucky Oaks twices with Lite Light in 1991 and Pike Place Dancer in 1996. He has multiple Grade 1 wins in California and has won the Strub Stakes four times, including three consecutive running in 1999-2001 with Event of the Year, General Challenge and Wooden Phone.
Enjoys Other Sports:
A champion high school wrestler, Nakatani first went to the races with his father at Santa Anita at age 16. He was interested and decided he wanted to ride even though he'd never been on a horse. He learned the ropes on the Thoroughbred farm of agent Tony Matos, then broke and galloped horses for Johnny Longden and Longden's son Eric before starting his career as a jockey. Nakatani is also an avid golfer who carries a handicap of only 3.
He has ridden some excellent horses over the years including Serenas Song, Rock Hard Ten, Sarafan, Elloluv, Event of the Year, Lava Man, Lite Light, Sandpit (Brz), Cara Rafaela, Relaxed Gesture (Ire) and Lava Man. He has been the regular rider on seven champions: Itsallgreektome, Jewel Princess, Lit de Justice, Possibly Perfect, Reraise, Wandesta (GB), and Sweet Catomine.