HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Jockey Javier Castellano set the tone for a career year in 2013 by winning 100 races at Gulfstream Park last winter and putting himself in position to become the most successful jockey in North America.
The 36-year-old native of Maracaibo, Venezuela went on to ride the winners of 362 races and a record $26.2 million in purses last year, leading North America in both categories.
Castellano is back atop the jockey standings at the current meeting while riding winners at a 30-percent clip at Gulfstream Park, where he will attend the 43rdEclipse Awards Ceremony at Gulfstream’s Sport of Kings facility on Jan. 18 as one of three finalists for the 2013 jockey championship.
“I’m very honored. After you work so hard all year, to be nominated for the Eclipse Award is a great honor. Last year was an amazing year. I broke the money-won record held by Mr. (Ramon) Dominguez and I rode the most winners in the country,” Castellano said before Thursday’s program at Gulfstream. “Only three jockeys in history have won the most money and the most races in the same year. The first was Laffit Pincay and the last was Chris McCarron in 1980.”
Castellano, who will compete for the Eclipse with Joel Rosario and Gary Stevens, won titles Gulfstream, the spring meeting at Belmont Park, Saratoga and the fall meeting at Belmont in 2013.
“I won a lot of races and a lot of Grade 1s. It’s been a phenomenal year. I look forward, hopefully, to winning my first Eclipse Award. It would be a great honor,” Castellano said. “I appreciate everybody who has given me the opportunity to ride such good horses, all the people who have supported me during my career.”
His agent, Matt Muzikar, has been instrumental in Castellano’s rise to super stardom.
“We’ve had a lot of success together. He puts me on the right horses. When you’re in demand, you need to pick the right horse. You may have three horses in a race. You don’t always pick the best horse in a race. Sometimes you need to support someone who has supported you during your career,” said Castellano, who has ridden 3,641 winners since launching his career in 1997. “The way he handles my business is phenomenal.”
Who’s Hot: Jockey Joe Rocco Jr. rode a pair of winners: Easy On Bai ($5.40) in the sixth and Majestic Express ($4.80) in the ninth.Rainbow 6 Carryover: $13,482.86