Each week, jockey Javier Castellano, who won the last three Eclipse Awards for being North America’s most outstanding jockey, is sharing a Saratoga Blog. This is the last of seven installments, with the questions coming from turf writer Bob Fortus.
Bob Fortus: You’ve won 11 stakes (through Wednesday), more than any other jockey, you have the lead in money won, and you’re five wins off the lead in victories, so all in all, it’s been a pretty good meet. What are your thoughts on that?
Javier Castellano: “Absolutely. It’s a great meet. I’m very pleased. I’ve very thankful. Everything is going well … and I’ve had a lot of support. A lot of trainers, they support me, and a lot of owners, they give me opportunities to ride the good horses.”
Tell me about the ride on Cavorting (in the Personal Ensign). I thought that was a great race. There were only five horses, but they were all really good. It just worked out perfectly for you.
“Yeah. It worked out great. I stuck with the same plan I had before. I didn’t want to change anything. Sometimes you have to make a decision. The race is tough. In that situation, I stuck with my same plan, to take back that filly and make one run. She broke good out of the gate. She beat the gate. … but I took it nice and easy and put her behind the horses. And she relaxed, and she was able to finish very, very well. I really like the way she did it.”
So she showed the two turns aren’t really a problem, and she might be able to go on in the Breeders’ Cup around two turns.
“Absolutely. I think she proved she belonged. I think she proved she can go that far, and I don’t think there’s a question.”
And Flintshire, he’s been brilliant every time he’s run in this country. He sure was the other day (in the Sword Dancer).
“Absolutely. He’s one of the best horses I’ve every ridden in my career on the grass. He’s so powerful. He has great acceleration, great power. I’m very pleased and thankful to ride Flintshire.”
Let’s talk about a couple of your mounts coming up. In the Spinaway, you’re riding Sweet Loretta. She’s going to be going from (six) to seven furlongs, and you drew the rail, so those are some challenging things to consider. What are your thoughts on that race?
“Well, I never rode that filly before, and I think there’s a lot of speed in that race, and that filly came from behind last time. John Velazquez, he rode that filly. The way she did it last time, I was very impressed. … She performed very well last time. I’ll try to same some ground, and hopefully, she can show up (Saturday).
One thing about riding for Todd (Pletcher), you always know the horses are ready. There’s never any mystery about whether this one is ready for this spot. They wouldn’t be there if Todd didn’t think they belonged.
“Yeah. Todd is a great horseman. Everybody knows. I give him a lot of credit, because he’s always on top of the horses and always does a great job. He’s going to bring the horses at 100 percent. Hopefully, everything unfolds the right way for us.”
Have you been working Bitumen since his last race (the Sanford)?
He’s had four works since you won on him. Are you riding him in the Hopeful (on Monday)?
“Yeah. He’s going to run in the Hopeful. The last time I rode the horse was when he won. They say he’s training really well and pointed to the Hopeful.”
He’s going from six furlongs to seven furlongs. The way he ran last time, it looks like the farther the better for that horse.
“Yes. He’s a well-bred horse. I don’t think (distance) is going to be the question. The way he ran last time, he came from behind, and he did it the right way.”
Have you got a new agent for the Belmont meet yet or is that still up in the air?
“I have an agent already. It’s Mike Lakow. He was (a) racing secretary in New York for many, many years.”
So starting with the Belmont meet, you’ll be working with him. He should know all the players.
“He was an impressive secretary. He knows the horsemen. He knows the people for many years. I hope it works out great.”