Each week during the Saratoga meet, Cynthia Grisolia sits down with Javier Castellano and puts his thoughts on paper for JockeyTalk360.
WEEK THREE AT THE SPA:
What can I say? This week, it was a lot better than last. I’ve had six wins and two seconds in the last two days, and a few exciting stakes. A week ago, nothing seemed to go quite right. But that, as they say, is horseracing.
I spent the weekend facing off against Johnny Velazquez–an enviable place for a jockey to be, no? I won the Alfred G. Vanderbuilt with Rock Fall, nosing out Johnny and The Big Beast. It was an awesome ride, but also a very emotional race. I rode The Big Beast all last year–we won the GR1 King Bishop–and I know he’s a game horse. So when we hooked up with Johnny at the top of the stretch and he lost his whip, wow. Lucky for me, Rock Fall is a game horse, too, and he responded very well.
The next day I beat Johnny again, this time with Stopchargingmaria who nosed out Untapable in the Shuvee. People often ask what it’s like when a fellow jock is a good friend, and Johnny is one of my best friends. In the jock’s room we kidded around about it. I said, “Hey, easy Johnny, you won all the races the first week, let other people win also!” We have a sense of humor and we communicate very well. But you still have to be very competitive. As soon as you get up on the next horse in the paddock, we forget everything and focus on how we can win that race.
As you may have guessed, there’s one race I’m really focused on winning right now and that’s the Whitney Handicap with Honor Code. It’s a really competitive field and it’s a big field–there are seven horses and they’re all grade one material. It’s not going to be easy, but I have such faith in Honor Code. People have criticized our drawing the one hole, but I am very satisfied with that post. I’m going to be able to save all that ground. You know, he’s not going to show me a lot of speed at the beginning. He needs to develop momentum to go forward, as long as he gets that …whoosh. He’s got such a powerful kick–I’ve never seen a horse like that.
At least I had a chance to chill out a little before this big weekend. On Thursday I went to the New York All-Star Charity Basketball Game, a fundraiser for the Race Track Chaplaincy. It was the jocks vs. the trainers (I’m not too good at b-ball, so I was just there for support) and the jockeys won! They may not be too tall, but t they can shoot a mean hoop.