From the Blood-Horse
Javier Castellano reached a significant career milestone Feb. 8 at Gulfstream Park when the reigning two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey notched his 4,000th career victory aboard Captain Stan in the 10th race.
“I think it’s one of the best moments of my life, right now,” Castellano said. “I’ve been very fortunate to ride a lot of good horses the last few years and two Eclipse Awards back to back. I’ve won a lot of good races, a lot of grade I’s. Everything has gone (well) so far in my career. I’m very thankful and blessed.”
Castellano was able to obtain good stalking position aboard White Wabbit Wacing’s Captain Stan, tracking pacesetter A Bit Quick around the first turn and along the backstretch. Captain Stan made progress on the last turn and opened a lead at the top of the stretch before shortening stride late. The Jorge Navarro-trained colt responded to Castellano’s urging to hold off late-running Let’s Wrap It Up by a half length in the 7 1/2-furlong maiden claiming race.
“The way the race developed I felt like I had a chance to win today. My horse, turning for home when I asked him, responded so quick and I got so emotional. I said, ‘Wow, I’m going to win my 4,000th race,’ ” Castellano said. “The last sixteenth I started worrying a little bit when my horse started getting tired. Finally, he gave me that little extra to get the 4,000th win. It’s amazing. I feel so proud to be participating against the best jockeys, the best colony, in the country. It’s special.”
Castellano entered Sunday’s 13-race program with 3,997 victories after riding four winners on Saturday’s Gulfstream card, including three in graded stakes. He had two winners Sunday prior to reaching the mark.
“It’s a pretty significant milestone,” Pletcher said. “He’s riding great and he’s had a great career. I think anybody that has stayed in the game this long and has been able to ride that many winners shows a lot of determination and a lot of commitment and talent, and he certainly has that.
A 37-year-old native of Maracaibo, Venezuela, Castellano launched his U.S. riding career in South Florida in 1997, collecting his first win aboard Phone Man at Calder Race Course. He sits atop the nation’s rider standings thus far this year with 51 victories and $2,169,187 in purses.