Javier Castellano Profile
|Born||Oct 23, 1977|
Star moved from Venezuela to become one of the leading jockeys in the USA, landing more than 5,000 winners to date.
Javier Castellano is one of the greatest jockeys in American Thoroughbred horse racing, with more than 5,000 wins from 29,000 starts and prestigious awards like the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey to his name.
From Venezuela to New York
Javier Castellano was born on October 23, 1977, in Maracaibo, Zulia, Venezuela. Castellano's family was heavily involved in horse racing as he was growing up, with his father and uncle both being jockeys. His brother is also currently a jockey based in south Florida.
Castellano first started riding in Venezuela. In 1996, he was a regular rider at the Santa Rita and La Rinconada racecourses in his home country. The La Rinconada is a horse racing track located in Coche, near Caracas, which first opened in 1959. The course is considered to be the best in the country, hosting major events and many of the world's best jockeys.
In June 1997, Castellano made the decision to move to the United States to continue his career. He first started riding at tracks in southern Florida before moving to the New York state racing circuit in 2001.
The Breeders' Cup and the Eclipse Award
Castellano took his first major victories aboard the Frank Stronach colt Ghostzapper in 2003 and 2004. The most notable was the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic, the first of his Breeders' Cup victories.
In 2006, Castellano guided Bernardini to the Preakness Stakes - his first Triple Crown victory. That same year, he also won the Grade 1 Travers Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes with Bernardini, along with the Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes and Grade 3 Withers Stakes.
After landing between 150 and 170 wins each year from 2007 to 2009, Castellano's next big season came in 2010, when he won five straight races at Saratoga Race Course. That winning streak came on the third day of the racing season, with the biggest victory of the five coming in the Travers aboard Afleet Express.
In 2011, he impressed once again at Saratoga when winning a total of five Grade 1 stakes - the Prioress Stakes, the Ballerina, the Personal Ensign and the Diana, as well as the Travers once more. That same year, he also took the Just a Game Stakes, Ashland and Maker's Mark, all of which were Grade 1 events.
Castellano closed out the 2011 season with an all-time high of $15.7million in earnings, aided by 278 race wins. He broke that record the following year with purse earnings of $22.4million (324 wins) before hitting $26.2million in 2013 after securing 362 wins, his most successful year to date in terms of race victories.
The jockey's impressive eight-year streak of scoring at least one Breeders' Cup race per year began in 2012, with his first blank at the event since 2011 coming in 2020. Meanwhile, 2013 marked the first year of four straight when Castellano received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey.
In 2014, he picked up $25million in earnings after registering a total of 315 race victories, while Castellano continued this form into 2015, breaking his single-season money record when he accrued a total purse of $28.1million. He took 344 wins that year out of 1,507 mounts, making him the leading rider by win count. He also took his fifth Travers victory in 2015 aboard Keen Ice. In that outing, he upset the Triple Crown champion American Pharoah.
Castellano won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey once again in 2016, taking the prestigious award for the fourth straight year. This projected him into the Hall of Fame in 2017. Another big factor in that Hall of Fame decision was the jockey's second Preakness Stakes victory aboard Cloud Computing that year.
In 2018, Castellano took his sixth Travers Stakes aboard Catholic Boy, while he also became the regular rider of Grade 1 victor Imperial Hunt. He was aboard Bulletin as the pair won the Juvenile Turf Sprint to give the jockey another Breeders' Cup win. The following day he scored a major victory aboard City of Light in the Dirt Mile.
Two more Breeders' Cup triumphs came in 2019 when Castellano guided British Idiom in the Juvenile Fillies (pictured) and Belvoir Bay in the Turf Sprint. These wins contributed to a third-place ranking by earnings that year.
Castellano had another impressive year in 2020, with some of his more recent victories including Grade 1 events like the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes aboard Digital Age and the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap while riding Vekoma.
Major racing victories
Javier Castellano has won all levels of graded races throughout his career, with notable victories including the Gotham Stakes (2004), the Woodward Stakes (2004, 2015 and 2016), the Mr. Prospector Handicap (2005), the W. L. McKnight Handicap (2005, 2010 and 2014), the Lexington Stakes (2005 and 2016), the Forego Stakes (2005), the Withers Stakes (2006 and 2013), the Fourstardave Handicap (2006 and 2010), the Jim Dandy Stakes (2006 and 2011), the Alabama Stakes (2006, 2013 and 2015), the Jockey Club Gold Cup (2006), the Travers Stakes (2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2018), the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (2007), the Man o' War Stakes (2008 and 2015), the Acorn Stakes (2009 and 2012), the Pegasus Stakes (2010 and 2017), the Risen Star Stakes (2010 and 2012), the Prioress Stakes (2011 and 2019), the Louisiana Derby (2013), the Whitney Stakes (2015), the Tampa Bay Stakes (2016), the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019), the Cigar Mile (2016 and 2017), the Belmont Oaks Invitational (2017 and 2020) and the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes (2020).
Castellano has won several Breeders' Cup races including the Classic (2004), the Filly and Mare Turf (2012 and 2014), the Juvenile Fillies (2013 and 2019), the Dirt Mile (2015 and 2018), the Distaff (2015), the Juvenile Fillies Turf (2016 and 2017), the Juvenile Turf Sprint (2018) and the Turf Sprint (2019).
The jockey's most prestigious victories came in the Preakness Stakes, which he won in both 2006 and 2017.
Javier Castellano's horses
Throughout Castellano's long career, he has had the call for many of the sport's top runners. Two of his most notable recent horses are Rushing Fall and British Idiom.
Rushing Fall is a mare from More Than Ready that has earnings of over $2.8million. Trained by Chad Brown, she has provided Castellano with some major wins recently. In 2020, the pair won the Grade 1 Diana Stakes at Saratoga, while they also took the Grade 1 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland.
The Brad H. Cox-trained British Idiom is another one of Castellano's recent horses. The Flashback filly has over $1.4million in earnings. The pair joined forces to win the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades Stakes in 2019.
Castellano has also guided top names like Digital Age, Vekoma, Speech, Win Win Win, Magic Attitude and Rushie in recent years.