08/19/2008 11:00PM

Castanon off to hot start at Presque Isle


When Drop a Line came up the rail to win the $100,000 Windward Stakes last Saturday at Presque Isle Downs, it was a punctuation mark to a great beginning here for jockey Jesus Castanon. The 35-year-old Mexico City native has been on fire since arriving five weeks ago, winning with 29 of his 85 mounts through Tuesday, a 34 percent win rate.

Castanon began his riding career in 1989 at Caliente Race Course in Tijuana, Mexico. The second-youngest of 10 children, Castanon began working with horses at a young age.

"My dad owned and trained horses and we were all involved," Castanon said. "I began helping when I was about 8, I think. I had two older brothers who were jockeys, so that is what I always wanted to be."

Castanon began his United States career at Hollywood Park and was based there for two years. He has ridden at nearly 60 tracks across the country, and his mounts have earned over $29.6 million. Castanon has really blossomed at Presque Isle.

"It has been great here," he said. "I got off on the right foot and everything has lined up well. I am getting on a lot of good horses. I love the Tapeta surface and the horses seem to love it, although it seems horses that come from dirt often need a race over it."

Louisville, Ky., is home to the father of four.

"I love it here," he said, "but I will be happy to get home to my wife, Rolanda, and two children, Drew and Isiah."

Castanon also has two children from a previous marriage, Gracieco and Micha.

He plans to go back to Churchill Downs after the close of the Presque Isle meet.

"Hopefully we can keep the momentum going here and take it to Churchill and do well there this fall," he said.