01/06/2012 10:55AM

2011 Eclipse Awards: Javier Castellano


Although jockey Javier Castellano trailed fellow Eclipse finalists Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez in money won in 2011, he ended the year on top in another key category: Grade 1 victories.

In North America’s elite stakes at the Grade 1 level, the Venezuelan-born Castellano notched 11 victories, most of any rider, with Stay Thirsty’s triumph in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga being the most recognizable.

Other Grade 1-winning rides for Castellano included Union Rags in the Grade 1 Champagne; Ask the Moon in both the Personal Ensign Stakes and Ruffian Handicap; Hilda’s Passion in the Ballerina; Zagora in the Diana; C.S. Silk in the Just a Game, Get Stormy in the Maker’s Mark Mile; Lilacs and Lace in the Ashland; and Her Smile in the Prioress.

Castellano, 34, a resident of Garden City, N.Y., was more than a big-race rider in 2011. Though he competed in New York essentially from May through November, spending his other time riding in south Florida and Kentucky, he was third in victories at New York Racing Association tracks in 2011 behind Ramon Dominguez and Cornelio Velasquez, year-round competitors in New York.

He finished second to Dominguez in victories, 71-69, in the Belmont spring/summer meet and topped the standings there in the fall, turning the tables on Dominguez by a 42-40 margin.

He also finished second to John Velazquez at Saratoga, 52-50.

Castellano finished 2011 on a tear after shifting his tack in December to Gulfstream Park, leading the standings there at year’s end.

Among all riders, he concluded 2011 fifth in victories with 278, and third in earnings, with his mounts making $15,675,977.