Javier Castellano won 11 races, including Gulfstream Park’s Grade II Fort Lauderdale Stakes, to be named the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week. The title goes to the week’s outstanding jockey in the opinion of a panel of industry experts and the public consensus. They looked at races run from January 5-11.
Castellano, who rode three winners on Sunday, posted 11 wins, 8 seconds and 7 thirds in 41 starts for earnings of $398,825 during the week. A $2 mutuel ticket on each of his 11 winning mounts returned an average of $5.24.
In the Fort Lauderdale Stakes on Saturday, he rode the 9-5 favorite Mshawish for trainer Todd Pletcher and Al Shaqab Racing. After racing in third and fourth, Mshawish came wide off the turn and prevailed by a neck at the wire.
“It was pretty tough today,” Castellano said. “This is a horse that is a little difficult to ride. You need to cover him up and unfortunately today he was a little more in the clear. A couple of jockeys smooched a little bit to be in a forward position and I just tried to cover up my horse the best I can. The way he did it today I was very impressed, because he fought a lot in the beginning but still fought at the end. He really gives you everything he has. He deserved to win the race today.”
The son of a former jockey, Castellano got his start in his native Venezuela in 1996. He moved to the United States in June 1997, riding on the South Florida circuit. He moved to New York in 2001 and finished sixth in the standings. The next year, he was second.
In 2004, he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Horse of the Year Ghostzapper. Castellano won his first Triple Crown race in 2006 when he won the Preakness with Bernardini.
In 2011, he won 11 Grade I races, more than any other rider that year. On February 24, 2012, he notched up his 3,000th victory, riding Virtuously at Gulfstream Park.
On January 18, 2014, he won his first Eclipse Award as top jockey of 2013.
Castellano currently ranks atop the jockey standings in both wins and earnings at Gulfstream Park. He’s also leading the nation in both categories for 2015. He’s one of three finalists for the 2014 Eclipse Award for top jockey.
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 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, Turf Publicists of America, and the public consensus.