Each week during the Saratoga meet, Cynthia Grisolia sits down with Javier Castellano and puts his thoughts on paper for JockeyTalk360. 


Javier CastellanoI’ve ridden a lot of great horses this week, but it’s been hard to not keep thinking about winning my first Whitney Handicap with Honor Code last Saturday. I have been fortunate enough to win a lot of grade ones here in Saratoga, but as I told Mrs. Whitney, who was in the the winner circle, it was just an honor to win such a prestigious race.

It was an exciting race, for sure. Now that it’s over I can tell the truth, though. In the beginning I was kind of worried. At the quarter pole, Liam’s Map was in front five or six lengths, and I thought, “I’m not going to catch him.”

But then I didn’t think about it. I tried to have faith, and I just kept riding and riding. And the thing about Honor Code is that he always responds, he has a great kick and he never gives up.  He always gives me that great acceleration.

I was very proud because this was really a deep field and it turned into a spectacular race that just went down to the wire.  After the race my wife, Abby, called and said, “Oh, my God, don’t win like that—you almost gave me a heart attack!”

We laughed about it. Abby enjoys coming to the races, and my whole family has really enjoyed being here in Saratoga—it’s basically a vacation for us.

My daughters, next week they go to summer camp. Kayla, she’s 9 and Sienna, she’s 6 and I have a little boy, Brady, who is turning three years old.  They just love it here. My little boy, while he doesn’t understand about racing yet, he loves to come see the horses, but Sienna is allergic to them! Can you imagine?  A jockey whose little girl is allergic to horses!

Now I’m looking forward to two rides this weekend. On Saturday I’ll be aboard the 2-year old filly Tonasah in the Adirondack Stakes. She’s a very competitive filly who won a maiden special weight a Belmont by five.  Later in the day is the Fourstardave with Ironicus.

He is another very special horse. The way he performed in the Dixie Union, his stakes debut at Pimlico in May–he did phenomenal. He just has so much potential and, hopefully, we can put it all together for this big race. If we should win, I think we just might make it to the Breeders’ Cup. To me, he is one of the greatest horses on the grass right now.

Like Honor Code, Ironicus likes to come from behind, though we’ll be much closer to the pace— please, no heart attacks this week.