For the second consecutive season at the Spa, jockey Javier Castellano graciously has agreed to be your eyes and ears. Each week, Castellano, who won the last three Eclipse Awards for being North America’s most outstanding jockey, will be sharing his Saratoga Blog.  This is the first of seven installments.

What does Saratoga mean to you?

“Saratoga Race Course is very special to me. Saratoga, in my opinion, is one of the most prestigious race meetings in all the world.

The quality of racing is second to none. Quality horsemen and riders from throughout the country compete on a daily basis. The crowds that attend the races daily are tremendous, and I love seeing all the young kids at the track.

Over the years, my agent, Matt Muzikar, has done an outstanding job of getting me on competitive horses for us to be successful. I have all the confidence that Matt will continue to do a great job, and I hope we both have a successful meet.

The tradition of Saratoga is so important for our industry, and I hope that all of us in the industry will use Saratoga and Del Mar to promote how great our sport really is.

I look forward to our weekly updates and hope we can highlight quality horses and races over the next 40 days.

Hope to see many of you at Saratoga for some really exciting racing.”

(Castellano will be riding in three stakes races in the first two days of the meet – on Elysea’s World in the Grade 2 Lake George on Friday for trainer Chad Brown, on Wekeela in the Grade 1 Diana on Saturday for Brown and on Bitumen in the Grade 3 Sanford on Saturday for trainer Eddie Kenneally.) Could you talk about those stakes mounts?

(Elysea’s World) “Unfortunately, the last time (in the Wonder Again at Belmont Park) , she was boxed all the way in the race, and I didn’t have any opportunity to have her free, and when it was time to run, she didn’t respond. I think she was boxed from the beginning of the race all the way to the end, and when everybody speeded up, I didn’t have a chance to keep up. I think I’m looking forward to tomorrow, opening day, and I think it’s a good spot with her. Also, the race the last time, it was kind of close to when she ran the first time (25 days after she won an allowance race in her U.S. debut) and I don’t know if she bounced a little bit, but now she has more time, and I think she’s going to move forward.”

(Wekeela) “The last time she ran, (in the Gamely at Santa Anita) I don’t think it was the best type of race, the best type of ground for her. You know what, it’s different running (in California). … And that filly came from way back, and she finished second. The winner (Illuminant), she took advantage, and I couldn’t get her. But on Saturday, I think she’s going to be closer up. …  These kind of races, you want to perform, and hopefully I can get it done with Wekeela.

(Bitumen) “I didn’t have a chance to be on the horse in the morning. Those horses (for Kenneally) just got in here, but I spoke to him this morning, and he has very high expectations with the horse. He really liked him first time (when Bitumen won at Churchill Downs). He’s very impressed with what he does in the morning, the way he works out, the way he acts. He’s a very classy horse. Hopefully, he’ll move forward.”