04/24/2017 12:00PM

Castellano, Espinoza, Gomez, Goldikova elected to Racing Hall of Fame

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Justin N. Lane
The mare Goldikova beat males three times in the Breeders' Cup Mile.

There will be a celebration of two riding careers still gloriously active, mixed with the sad reminder of a great who recently died, at this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

Current jockeys Javier Castellano and Victor Espinoza, the late jockey Garrett Gomez, and three-time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Goldikova have been elected into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the organization announced Monday.

Those four outpolled jockeys Robby Albarado and Craig Perret; trainers Mark Casse, John Shirreffs, and David Whiteley; and the modern-day racehorses Gio Ponti and Kona Gold in balloting by 186 voters.

Under the Hall of Fame’s rules, a candidate must receive support from at least 50 percent of the electorate and must finish in the top four among those on the final ballot in order to be elected. Voters can vote for as few or as many candidates as they wish. The Hall of Fame does not release vote totals.

Castellano, Espinoza, Gomez, and the mare Goldikova will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 4 at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., just around the corner from the Hall of Fame. Those four join previously announced steeplechase selections, the trainer Tom Voss and the horse Good Night Shirt, as this year’s inductees.

Castellano, a 39-year-old native of Venezuela, is the reigning four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey. He has won 4,664 races and ranks fifth all time in purse earnings, his mounts having earned $276.4 million. Castellano set a single-season record for purse earnings by a jockey in 2015, when his mounts earned more than $28.1 million.

Castellano has won seven Breeders’ Cup races, including the 2004 Classic with Ghostzapper, and has won one Triple Crown race, the 2006 Preakness. He has won the Travers a record five times and owns 10 riding titles in New York, five at Gulfstream, and two at Keeneland in a career that has been based on the East Coast.

Espinoza, 44, has had a terrific career that reached its apex in 2015, when he guided American Pharoah to the first Triple Crown sweep in 37 years. His victory in that year’s Kentucky Derby was his third, and he now joins the other nine riders who have won the Derby at least three times as a Hall of Fame member.

Espinoza also was the regular rider for California Chrome, who was Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2016, so he has ridden the Horse of the Year the past three years. California Chrome and War Emblem, in 2002, were his Derby winners prior to American Pharoah.

Espinoza has won three Breeders’ Cup races and 3,318 races overall, with his mounts having earned more than $193 million, placing him 17th all time in earnings. After riding in Northern California when he first arrived from his native Mexico, he has been a mainstay in Southern California for two decades and owns 10 riding titles combined at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar.

Gomez, who died last December at age 44, was a brilliant but troubled jockey whose career, and life, were tragically cut short, but who ranked as one of the very best riders of his era. He won 3,769 races, and his mounts earned more than $205 million before he left the sport in 2013. He ranks 14th all time in purse earnings.

Gomez won 13 Breeders’ Cup races – including sending Zenyatta to her lone defeat when aboard Blame in the 2010 Classic – and was voted the Eclipse Award-winning jockey in 2007 and 2008. He led the nation’s jockeys in purse earnings four straight years from 2006-09.

A native of Arizona, Gomez began his career in the Midwest, but he was largely based on the West Coast during his best years.

Goldikova won 17 of 27 starts, mostly in Europe, but had terrific success on her annual journeys to the United States, where she became the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile three straight years (2008-10). She finished third in 2011 when, in the final start of her career, she attempted to win the BC Mile for the fourth straight year.

Her three Breeders’ Cup wins are matched only by future Hall of Famer Beholder, who won the Juvenile Fillies once and the Distaff twice.

Goldikova was voted the Eclipse Award-winning female turf horse in both 2009 and 2010. Freddy Head trained her for brothers Alain and Gerard Wertheimer. She won 14 Grade 1 or Group 1 races, including nine against males, all with Olivier Peslier aboard. Now age 12, she has had three reported foals since retiring from racing, all, like her, born in Ireland.