05/22/2001 11:00PM

Abel to carry on Castellano winning tradition


MIAMI - Throughout the 2000 campaign at Calder, Abel Castellano rode in the shadow of his older brother Javier, who won his second straight Tropical-at-Calder title. This year it will be Abel's turn to keep the Castellano name atop the local jockey standings.

Javier Castellano moved his tack during the winter to New York, where he continues to ride with considerable success. Abel left this area for Kentucky last fall and was the top apprentice and sixth leading rider overall at Churchill Downs when he suddenly decided to return to Miami for the summer.

"I always liked it here, and I was getting a little homesick," the younger Castellano said. "My agent was planning to go to Chicago for the summer with Robby Albarado and I felt I'd have more business at Calder than at Arlington."

Castellano called veteran agent Cory Moran out of the blue last week and said he was switching his tack to Calder.

"I was surprised when he called, but it was a pleasant surprise for sure," said Moran, who also books mounts for veteran Abdiel Toribio. "I think one of the reasons he decided to come back was because he's seen how well his brother has done here and then was able to go on to New York, and someday he'd like to follow that same path."

Castellano has two months remaining on his apprentice allowance.

"I talk to my brother all the time and we discussed my returning to Calder," he said. "And he thought it was a good idea."

Tiara on the turf

Trainer Joe Waunsch is still scratching his head over Platinum Tiara's disappointing performance in the Kentucky Oaks but will waste little time getting her back in action when she takes on older rivals in Saturday's $150,000 Calder Breeders' Cup Handicap at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.`

Platinum Tiara finished 10th, beaten nearly 11 lengths, in the Grade 1 Oaks.

"I don't know what happened in Kentucky," Waunsch said. "Although I do know the jock [Corey Nakatani] took her back to last and had her about six or seven wide, and that's not the kind of trip we were looking for. I expected her to be no further back than sixth or seventh during the early running of the Oaks."

The Oaks will likely be Platinum Tiara's last start on dirt for quite a while. She was an impressive winner of her turf debut at Hialeah on April 8, defeating multiple graded stakes winner OK to Dance.

"I think she has a big future on the turf, and if it's up to me we'll definitely keep her there," said Waunsch. "I'd much rather her be the best 3-year-old turf filly in the country than the fourth or fifth best filly on dirt."

Waunsch will send out a pair in the Calder BC Handicap with Silver Banadana joining Platinum Tiara in the starting lineup. Clearly a Queen will be the starting highweight and likely favorite in the race.

Sharp remembered

George Sharp, the horse identifier at Calder, Gulfstream and Hialeah for more than three decades, died following a long illness last month.

"George was not only one of the best racing officials I have encountered in my career but he also had a tremendous sense of humor and was a pleasure to be around," said Calder Racing Secretary Bob Umphrey. "He will be sorely missed around here by everybody."