06/02/2005 11:00PM

Castro reaches 2,000-victory plateau

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ALBANY, Calif. - Veteran rider Joe Castro earned the 2,000th victory of his career at Golden Gate Fields on Friday, guiding Aerial Hawk to a one-half length victory over favored Hot Fudge Sundae in a 1 1/16-mile $32,000 maiden claimer on the turf.

The 41-year-old rider got his first win in 1983 at Hollywood Park and has spent much of his career in Northern California.

"It feels good to do it at home," he said after a patient ride in which he was blocked near the quarter pole as Hot Fudge Sundae got first run on him. When he got room at the eighth pole, he made a strong move and got the filly to rally for the victory.

"It feels good, but it seems a bit dubious to celebrate one day after Russell Baze reached 9,000. It's something I'm proud of. I believe I could have done it soon were it not for injuries."