Monday, May 04, 2009

There was a stakes race for jockey Corey Nakatani to win on Saturday after all.

After missing out on a ride in Saturday's Kentucky Derby when Square Eddie was withdrawn earlier this week, Nakatani found a substitute mount with Gorgeous Goose in the $100,000 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Nakatani made the most of the opportunity, guiding Gorgeous Goose from sixth on the turn to a victory in her first graded stakes. Gorgeous Goose ($25.80) ran a mile on turf in 1:34.54, beating 9-10 favorite Diamond Diva by three-quarters of a length.

The Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap was Gorgeous Goose's first stakes win since the Blue Norther Stakes at Santa Anita in December 2007. Owned by breeders Mary Denes and Mary Woelfel and trained by Mike Puype, Gorgeous Goose has won 4 of 14 starts and $223,574.

The Wilshire was the second time that Nakatani rode Gorgeous Goose. Last summer at Del Mar, Nakatani was aboard for a third-place finish in the Sandy Blue Handicap.

"She always runs a big race," Nakatani said. "The big thing is to get her to relax."

Gorgeous Goose raced in the middle of the Wilshire field for the first half-mile, eight lengths behind In My Glory, who set an early pace of 23.86 and 47.32 seconds. Gorgeous Goose came off the rail on the turn. She was fifth with a furlong to go and took the lead in the final sixteenth.

Diamond Diva, making her first start since winning the Grade 2 CashCall Mile here last July, led by a half-length in the stretch. She held second, finishing three-quarters of a length in front of Charming Legacy.

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