01/05/2018 12:10PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Javier Castellano


Javier Castellano was literally all over the map in 2017.

Castellano is bidding for a fifth consecutive Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey following a year in which he won 37 graded stakes races from coast to coast, led by the Preakness with Cloud Computing and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with Rushing Fall.

Castellano also ranked second in mount earnings in North America, with $25,099,317, and was inducted into National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame. Overall, he won 223 races from 1,270 starts last year, with more than $13 million of his mount earnings coming in graded stakes.

Castellano is a 40-year-old native of Venezuela based on the East Coast, but he made himself at home on racetracks in a variety of locales last year, winning graded stakes in Arkansas, California, Canada, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Castellano’s record in such races was matched only by Mike Smith, who also won 37 graded stakes in 2017.

The Preakness at Pimlico was one of nine Grade 1 wins for Castellano. His final one last year came in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct with Sharp Azteca. Sharp Azteca came from off the pace to dominate by 5 1/4 lengths, earning a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 115.

Rushing Fall and Castellano had a perfect season together, their wins including the Jessamine at Keeneland and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Del Mar. In the latter race, Rushing Fall was key to Castellano accumulating the necessary points to capture the Shoemaker Award for his overall performance at last year’s Breeders’ Cup.

“She broke well and she put me in a good position,” Castellano told DRF. “I lost my position, but I didn’t panic. Turning for home, it was amazing. She had a powerful kick.”