Jockeys playing basketball? Fun to watch, bad to bet

Psst. Here’s a tip: Don’t bet on the Santa Anita jockeys basketball team.

Wagering on jockeys Joe Talamo, Cory Nakatani and Rafael Bejarano might be a good idea while these guys are holding a whip and a horse’s reins. But when they tie up their Nike Air Zooms and pick up a basketball, gamblers should keep their money in their pockets. 

Oh sure, these riders are nice people and it’s fun to watch jockeys like Brice Blanc, David Flores and Kayla Stra scamper around the court. But why would a group of grown-ups who stand just over 5-feet tall and weigh 115 pounds spend much time honing their basketball skills?

They wouldn’t. And they don’t.

That much was evident Thursday at La Salle High School in Pasadena when the Santa Anita jockeys lost to a group of eighth graders from Holy Angels School in Arcadia 35-19. 

It’s easy to see that these jockeys don’t play much ball by watching the one-minute You Tube video below of the game, which was shot by SA blogger Mary Forney.

We see Nakatani clanking a couple of free throws, the ref moving another mistaken jock off the key during the shots, and a Santa Anita field goal try that went bad after a sweet set-up move. I don’t know, maybe their coach TV’s Kurt Hoover was to blame.

But what I do know is that if this match was a horse race, it was as dominant a victory for the school kids as Smarty Jones’ 11-1/2 length win in the 2004 Preakness Stakes.

The riders might have lost, but as usual, the annual game seemed to be a hugely popular and entertaining event. The jockeys play the Holy Angels every year to raise money for the school’s athletic department.

Sunday, Santa Anita Race 4 — 2:03 p.m. post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden special weight, 6 furlongs, 3-year-olds

Possible overlays                         Morning line

#2 Hudler                                          5/1
#5 High Note                                     2/1
#6 Dona Mary                                   5/1
#7 Runway Starlet                             3/1

Lots of inexperienced runners in this field of eight fillies.

Trainer Doug O’Neill starts both first timer #2 Hudler and #7 Runway Starlet, a filly who has run three credible races.

Hudler’s owner, J. Paul Reddam, likes to use jockey Cory Nakatani and Reddam has had a fair amount of success with debuters. 

Another first timer with a strong shot is #5 High Note, trained by Dan Hendricks, but her morning line is a dismal 2-to-1. Finally, #6 Dona Marie fits the profile of a second timer with the potential to improve enough to win this one.

I will bet $200 to win on #2 Hudler at 5/1 and up; $200 on High Note in the unlikely event she’s 10/1 to 19/1: $200 on #6 Dona Mary at 3/1 and higher; and $200 on #7 Runway Starlet at 7/2 or better.

Results Santa Anita Sunday Race 5 — lost $250


Bob Baffert had #7 Deep Pockets ready off the long layoff

The horse I bet, #7 Deep Pockets at 7/2, broke alertly and jockey Cory Nakatani chased #2 No Prodical all the way around, finally winning a photo for place at the wire. Trainer Bob Baffert was bringing Deep Pockets off an eight-month layoff, an although his horse won the battle with No Prodigal, Baffert lost the war because a first-time starter named Deputy Flyer blew by both of them in deep stretch.

To watch a replay of this race go to


1 1 Fractious Child (CA) Potts C Mullins J 40.80 10
2 2 No Prodigal (CA) Flores D Yakteen T 5.50 3
3 3 Deputy Flyer (CA) Valdivia, Jr. J Ellis R 7.40 1
4 4 Spirit of Cochise (CA) Talamo J Harty E 23.30 7
5 5 Kettle Call (CA) Rosario J Gaines C 15.50 8
6 6 Kaptain Kordough (CA) Garcia M Garcia O 5.40 6
7 7 Deep Pockets (CA) Nakatani C Baffert B 3.60 2
9 8 Leavin in a Limo (CA) Gryder A Koriner B 24.40 9
10 9 Cole Rocks (CA) Espinoza V Zucker H 41.90 11
11 10 Raise the River (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.50 5
12 11 Buck’s Bro (CA) Quinonez A Sherlock G 12.90 4
SCR Arrogant Carson (CA)    
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $16.80 $7.60 $6.20
7 $5.80 $3.60
2 $4.80
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $59.30 (3-7)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $89.80 (4-6-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $2811.30 (3-7-2-12)
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