Jockey Javier Castellano came from out of the clouds to win the Gr.1 Whitney at Saratoga on Saturday in the final stride. That effort helped him win back to back Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week honors for the week of August 3rd to August 9th. 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.
Another week of double digit wins at “The Spa” has catapulted Castellano to the top of the rider standings at Saratoga after three weeks of racing.
Javier’s judgment of the quick early pace was perfect and it fit his mount’s running style too. Honor Code, as he often does, dropped well off the pace early in the Whitney as Liam’s Map jumped to the front and ended up with an uncontested lead. Liam’s Map travelled quickly for the majority of the race and it appeared the pace would take its toll on the leader, but it didn’t. He opened up into the stretch, and after one mile in 1:34.66, the rallying Honor Code appeared to be the only foe with a chance.
“I don’t have anything to do on my horse; that’s his style,” Castellano said. “At the three-eighths pole I felt like he was going to go to the leader, but at the quarter pole he didn’t kick off. I had to use him a little bit. When he got to the eighth pole, he switched leads at the right place at the right time.”
Trainer Shug McGaughey was both happy and relieved after the race. “I thought with the early fractions they might back up a little bit,” he said. “But I misjudged it and (at the sixteenth pole), I looked up and said, ‘Oh, man.’ It was a spectacular race by a spectacular horse.
Another stellar week of riding, including an additional stakes victory in Thursday’s Quick Call Stakes, added up to Castellano leading all riders in total earnings with $1,206,172. Castellano finished the week with 10 wins, 5 seconds and 6 thirds from 47 starts.
JockeyTalk360.com 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, 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.