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Corey Nakatani’s return to the Southern California jockey colony was a winning one, leading him to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for December 27, 2016 – January 2, 2017. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.

As Nakatani recovered from a bout of pneumonia in the spring of 2016, the veteran rider contemplated retirement. He had not ridden since Oaklawn in April, 2016, but was ready to pick up where he left off when Santa Anita opened in late December.

After a slow start in the first week of the meet, Nakatani picked up nine mounts last week and won twice. His first win came on first-time starter Gogoula ($18.80) in the second race of the day on December 31. Nakatani returned two races later to win the off-turf $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes aboard Goodyearforroses ($7.60) by over five lengths.

Last week, Nakatani earned $103,070 in nine starts, with two second-place finishes in addition to his two wins. He ended 2016 with $1,512,597 in 166 starts, with 29 wins, 27 seconds, and 18 third place finishes. Nakatani’s lifetime earnings to date top $228 million in over 23,000 starts.

A California native, Nakatani began his riding career in 1988 and was the leading apprentice rider in Southern California in 1989. He has earned 10 riding titles at Del Mar, Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. His most recent title was the 2006 Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet. Nakatani’s career to date includes 10 Breeders’ Cup wins. His first Breeders’ Cup win came on Lit de Justice in 1996 Breeders’ Cup Sprint for Jenine Sahadi, which also marked the first Breeders’ Cup winner for a female trainer.

Due to holiday racing schedules, the statistics used for the Jockey of the Week ballot spanned Tuesday, December 27, 2016 through Monday, January 2, 2017. spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, The Daily Racing Form, Equibase, Horse Racing Nation, The Jockeys’ Guild, The Paulick Report, The Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.