Jockey Javier Castellano won a pair of grade 3 races on Saturday at Gulfstream Park and led all riders in stakes earnings on his way to being named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for January 4th – January 10th. 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.
Castellano continues to lead all riders by a comfortable margin at the premiere winter meeting at Gulfstream Park. Two of those wins were against stakes level competition on Saturday, leading off with a dominating victory in the $150,000 Marshua’s River (G3) aboard Sandiva for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Sandiva broke alertly from her rail post position to vie for the lead along the first turn and despite the pressure and being headed along the backstretch, the even-money favorite relaxed nicely under a confident and patient Castellano. Leaving the backstretch she edged away from the tiring early contenders and won while drawing away on the turn and through the stretch run.
“I didn’t expect to be on the lead but the way she did it she was very sharp today. I was very impressed with the way she did it because she had never been on the lead. I didn’t expect to be close to the pace behind the horses,” Castellano said. “The way I handicapped the other two horses had the speed and she showed it today. The filly was training so well and Todd put the horse where she belonged. He told me don’t take it away if it comes easy. If you find yourself on the lead, go ahead. I think she was much the best today.”
Just three races later on the card that same pair would get the job done again while winning the $150,000 Hal’s Hope (G3). The 26th running of the one-mile Hal’s Hope for 4-year-olds and up was the second of three graded stakes on Saturday’s 11-race program.
Castellano rated Mshawish comfortably on the outside in third before rolling up to challenge on the far turn and taking a short lead from Valid at the head of the lane. The top two horses battled the length of the stretch before Mshawish edged away late for his first win since taking the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) last February.
Javier is coming off an exceptional 2015 campaign in which he lead all riders in North America in both number of wins with 344 and in money earned with $28,120,767.
For the week Castellano had five winners from his 33 mounts along with nine second placings and three third place finishes. His total earnings for the week were 309,880.
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.