01/08/2013 6:45PM

2012 Eclipse Awards: Javier Castellano

photo by: Barbara D. Livingston

Javier Castellano has never experienced a better year in the saddle than the one he had in 2012. He won 325 races for mount earnings of $22,441,852 and is an Eclipse Award finalist for outstanding jockey. His highlight reel includes eight Grade 1 wins, topped by Zagora’s victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Castellano, 35, achieved career milestones in both wins – surpassing his previous best of 288 in 1999 – and mount earnings, crushing the $15,677,027 he compiled in 2011. The numbers he put up ranked him among North America’s elite riders. He was second in mount earnings in 2012, trailing only Ramon Dominguez, whose $25 million broke a 9-year-old record. As for wins, Castellano ranked third for the year, behind Russell Baze and Dominguez.

Zagora’s triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 was Castellano’s richest victory of the year. But his most satisfying might have come aboard Dayatthespa at Keeneland on Oct. 13. She dominated the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup that afternoon for her fifth straight stakes win, all with Castellano aboard.

Last year, Castellano also won for the $1 million Wood Memorial with Gemologist, the Spinaway with So Many Ways, the Diana with Winter Memories, the Acorn with Contested, the Hollywood Derby with Unbridled Command, and the CashCall Futurity with Violence. Other major victories for him included the Delaware Oaks and Gulfstream Oaks, both aboard Grace Hall.