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Victor’s Cry and jockey Corey Nakatani, left, surge past Karelian, with Rafael Bejarano, to win the Grade I, $250,000 Shoemaker Mile horse race Monday, May 31 at Hollywood Park. (Photos by Shigeki Kikkawa/Rafu Contributor)

RAFU STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani proved the old adage, “there’s no place like home,” when he returned to Southern California this past weekend and guided the 21-1 longshot Victor’s Creed to a win by a head over Karelian in the Grade I, $250,000 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park.

At the onset, Nakatani’s chances looked slim as Victor’s Cry fell to the back of the pack. But the duo rallied from next to last to finish with a time of 1:32.88 and ended up paying out $44.40, $12.60 and $7.20.

“Turning for home I felt all I needed was a spot to run,” said Nakatani after the race. “He made a strong move from the three-eighths pole to get position and to be able to win the race I had to try to time it as best as I could.”

Nakatani picked up his fifth victory of the season as well as his fifth in the Shoemaker, putting him one behind the late Hall of Fame jockey for whom the race is named. Ironically enough, the victory was also the fifth in 17 career starts for Victor’s Cry, who has earnings of $350,633.

After spending the last 20 years of his career in Southern California, one that includes over 3,000 victories in every major race save the Kentucky Derby, the 39-year-old moved to Kentucky in January of this year. The move, spurred on by the prevalence of synthetic tracks throughout California and a desire to stay ahead of the curve, has been somewhat of a resurrection for Nakatani who suffered through a pair of broken collarbones in 2008 and a down season last year.

So far in 2010, he’s been the second-leading rider at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas and has a pair of wins at Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

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