By Cynthia Grisolia

WEEK ONE: OPENING DAY AT THE SPA

Javier CastellanoThere’s no question about it–this is absolutely my favorite track. I love to ride here at Saratoga. It’s very competitive, and I just love the challenges. Racing gets underway today, and, after working some horses on the grass this morning, I am scheduled to ride in nine out of 10, including the Schuylerville Stakes with Todd Pletcher’s Positively Royal and the Lake George Stakes with Chad Brown’s Partisan Politics. Tomorrow, I’m on 11 out of 11 on the card—look for me aboard Waltzing Matilda in the Diana–so, man, I am going to be busy!

But I was so happy that I could kick off the season with a very meaningful event to me and many other jockeys. On Wednesday night I attended the Capital OTB fundraiser for the benefit of the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund. Trainer Chad Brown was there tending bar as were jockeys Johnny Velazquez, Manoel Cruz, Angel Cruz, and the legendary Angel Cordero.

It was great to catch up with my friends, but we were there for a purpose: to raise money for the jocks that have given everything to this game and now need our help.

I think people don’t know a lot about jockeys–we don’t have benefits and we don’t have health insurance. Basically, we are self-employed, and everyone is an individual. God forbid something happens, you just have to take care of yourself. The Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund helps those injured jockeys that are struggling to pay their bills and trying to survive.

It was a fun night, and I think everyone really had a good time. We signed autographs, met fans, and watched lot of great races on video. Hopefully, we raised a lot of money, too.

But now, the horses are on the track. See you next week.