It never hurts to get hot in April.
Going strong in the fourth month on the calendar means gaining momentum going into Triple Crown season and winning some of the most notable races of the year. Chances are, it also means doing well at Keeneland's prestigious spring meet.
For jockey Javier Castellano, it meant all of the above. Castellano vaulted to the top of the jockey standings by North American graded stakes wins this year, with five graded scores in April, all of them over the course of a weekend at Keeneland, to bring him to a total of 11.
The one with the most immediate impact was Vekoma's victory in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, which punched the colt's ticket to this weekend's Kentucky Derby. Castellano notched Grade 1 wins in the Maker's 46 Mile aboard Delta Prince, the Jenny Wiley Stakes on Rushing Fall, and the Madison Stakes aboard Spiced Perfection, and he earned a Grade 3 win in the Transylvania Stakes on Avie's Flatter.
Castellano trailed previous leader Irad Ortiz Jr., at the end of March by a 10-6 margin. While Ortiz didn't pick up any graded wins in April, his win total was enough to keep him in second place at the end of four months.
There wasn't as much movement at the top of the other lists, but that doesn't mean there weren't some strong performances just below the surface.
Hill 'n' Dale Farms resident Curlin rocketed up the sire list with a trio of graded victories by his runners in April. The four total graded winners in his column put Curlin in a three-way tie for second place with Quality Road and Candy Ride for second place, all one winner behind leader Tapit.
All three of Curlin's new graded winners last month came in Grade 3 competition, with Lady Apple winning the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park, Electric Forest taking the Doubledogdare at Keeneland, and Campaign winning the Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita.
John Sadler jumped up into a tie for third on the trainer list with Steve Asmussen by graded winners in April, with his three winners last month bringing his total to five. In addition to Campaign's Tokyo City Cup triumph, Sadler conditioned G1 Santa Anita Handicap winner Gift Box and G2 Kona Gold Stakes winner Gift Box.
Sadler and Asmussen trail leader Chad Brown with eight winners and Todd Pletcher with six.
|Graded Stakes Winners by Consignor|
|1||Taylor Made||10 (11)|
|2||Lane's End||8 (9)|
|3||Wavertree Stables||4 (6)|
|5||Claiborne Farm||3 (3)|
|Darby Dan Farm||3 (3)|
|Eaton Sales||2 (3)|
|Stone Farm||2 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Breeder|
|2||Flaxman Holdings||2 (3)|
|Adena Springs||2 (2)|
|Claiborne Farm||2 (2)|
|Gary & Mary West||2 (2)|
|Pin Oak Stud||2 (2)|
|Ramona Bass||2 (2)|
|9||JSM Equine||1 (3)|
|Mikhail Yanakov||1 (3)|
|Woodford TBs||1 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Sire|
|2||Quality Road||4 (6)|
|Candy Ride||4 (4)|
|5||War Front||3 (5)|
|Street Sense||3 (3)|
|Twirling Candy||3 (3)|
|8||Street Cry||2 (3)|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Trainer|
|1||Chad Brown||8 (9)|
|2||Todd Pletcher||6 (7)|
|3||Steve Asmussen||5 (7)|
|John Sadler||5 (5)|
|5||Jerry Hollendorfer||4 (6)|
|Mike Maker||4 (6)|
|Richard Baltas||4 (4)|
|8||Bill Mott||3 (4)|
|Graded Stakes Wins by Jockey|
|2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||10|
|Total Graded Stakes Wins by Horse|
|Bricks and Mortar||2|
|War of Will||2|
|Graded Stakes Winners by Sale|
|FT MID May||5|
|Graded Stakes Wins by Sales Company|
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