01/05/2017 2:40PM

2016 Eclipse Awards: Javier Castellano

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Barbara D. Livingston
Javier Castellano

Javier Castellano is bidding for a fourth consecutive Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey after leading all North American-based riders in both mount earnings and graded stakes wins in 2016. Castellano’s year included a Longines Kentucky Oaks victory with Cathryn Sophia, a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf win with New Money Honey, and a standout turf mount in Flintshire.

Castellano, a 39-year-old native of Venezuela, won his first Eclipse Award in 2013, when he broke the mount-earnings record in North America previously held by Ramon Dominguez. Castellano also was honored as champion jockey in 2014 and 2015.

Castellano closed 2016 with mount earnings of $26,827,966. Of that total, about half was earned in graded stakes. Castellano won 35 of them last year – nine at the Grade 1 level. Cathryn Sophia gave Castellano his first Kentucky Oaks win when she stormed home by 2 3/4 lengths at Churchill Downs.

“What a filly,” the rider said after the race.

Later in the year, Castellano enjoyed Breeders’ Cup success when New Money Honey was up for a half-length score in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. The rider’s Grade 1 winners in 2016 included Flintshire, who won the Woodford Reserve Manhattan at Belmont Park and the Longines Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga.

“He’s a phenomenal, spectacular horse,” Castellano told Daily Racing Form after the Manhattan.

Flintshire’s win in the Sword Dancer was one of two Grade 1 victories Castellano celebrated on the Aug. 27 program at Saratoga. The rider also won the Personal Ensign aboard Cavorting. Castellano pulled a second Grade 1 double at Saratoga on Sept. 3, taking the Woodward with Shaman Ghost and the Spinaway in a dead heat aboard Sweet Loretta.

Other key mounts for the rider last year included Connect, who defeated older rivals in the Cigar Mile Handicap at Aqueduct, and Annals of Time, who won the Hollywood Derby at Del Mar. Stanford helped Castellano win his third straight riding title in the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge when he took down the Grade 2, $1.25 million Charles Town Classic, while Gunnevera brought Castellano to Louisiana, where the pair dominated the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot.

Castellano won 300 races from 1,418 mounts in 2016.