Castellano Sets Single-Season Earnings Mark
Jockey Javier Castellano put his name in the record books on Friday at Gulfstream Park, passing Ramon Dominguez to establish a new North American single-season record for purse earnings.
Castellano, 36, set the standard for riders after rallying on the far outside with I Ain’t Gonna Lie ($7.20) to win the third race by a nose over Currency Union for owner and trainer Herman Wilensky.
The victory, Castellano’s eighth of the meet, pushed his purse earnings to $25,655,988 on the year. He entered the day $8,849 shy of the $25,634,852 banked in 2012 by Dominguez, 37, who was forced to retire in June, five months after suffering serious injury in a spill at Aqueduct.
Leading the country in wins and purses earned, Castellano was a finalist for the Eclipse Award as top jockey behind Dominguez in 2011 and 2012, and is the leading contender to earn his first trophy in 2013. The ceremony will be held on Jan. 18, 2014 at Gulfstream.
In his first mount on card, Castellano was sixth with 8-5 favorite Beer Garden in the second race.
“I am very proud to break the record,” Castellano said. “One thing you work for all year round is this moment. I’m very proud to be at the level of Ramon Dominguez. He is such a classy guy.
“It feels so great. I am so thankful and blessed to be competitive with the top jockeys in the country. I appreciate all the opportunity from the owners and trainers, everybody involved, especially my agent. He handled my business the right way.”
Castellano is the two-time defending riding champion at Gulfstream, taking the 2012-13 title with 100 wins. He set a single-meet record with 112 victories in 2011-12, passing the previous mark of 97 shared by Julio Pezua (1987), Wigberto Ramos (1991) and Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey (1996).
This year, Castellano has also won riding championships at Belmont Park in the spring and fall and Saratoga Race Course in the summer, and was leading the standings at Aqueduct’s fall meet when he moved to south Florida for the winter.
“I’ve been very blessed to ride in New York. The purses are good and they help me break the record,” he said. “I am thankful to participate at Gulfstream with the best jockeys in the winter. To be the consistent leading jockey all year round is very special for me, almost more impressive to me than breaking the money record.
“It’s a lot of sacrifice to my family. My wife, my kids, they support me every single day, every single race. I don’t have the words to describe how thankful I am and how I appreciate everything. There are so many great riders out there. To be the number one earning jockey is unbelievable.”
In his career, Castellano has amassed more than, 3,600 wins and been the regular rider for 2004 Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, as well as Bernardini, the 3-year-old champion of 2006. Among his wins this year are the Grade I Coaching Club American Oaks, Alabama and Beldame with Princess of Sylmar, and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Ria Antonia.
At Gulfstream, he has won 38 graded stakes including the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf with Jambalaya in 2007; set a world record for 1 ½ miles on turf when riding Twilight Eclipse to victory in the Grade 2 Pan American last year; earned his 3,000th lifetime victory on Feb. 24, 2012 aboard Virtuously; and guided top female sprinter Sugar Swirl to a sweep of the First Lady, Hurricane Bertie and Shirley Jones handicaps in 2008.