Updated on 04/13/2013 10:03AM

Kentucky Derby: Castellano will ride Normandy Invasion

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Tom Keyser
Jockey Javier Castellano has opted to ride Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby. He rode the horse to a second-place finish in the Wood Memorial.

More dominos fell into place Thursday as far as the riding situation is concerned for the Kentucky Derby, as Javier Castellano has chosen to ride Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion instead of two-time graded stakes winner Revolutionary, and Garrett Gomez was named to ride Vyajck.

Castellano said it was a tough call, but considering how well Normandy Invasion ran against likely morning-line Derby favorite Verrazano in last Saturday's Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, he chose to stick with him. Normandy Invasion, owned by Rick Porter and trained by Chad Brown, finished three-quarters of a length behind Verrazano while galloping out extremely well past the wire.

Castellano rode Revolutionary, owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, to graded stakes victories in the Withers at Aqueduct and Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

"They're both very competitive horses, there's not much difference. We have to beat that horse Verrazano. My horse, the first time he run with Verrazano, he almost beat him. That's the reason why I lean toward him," said Castellano, who is 0 for 6 in the Derby.

"With all due respect, I really like Todd, the owner WinStar farm and Elliott Walden, they've been really supportive to me, but it's my own decision and it was really hard really, but it's Normandy Invasion."

Pletcher said Thursday that he and WinStar would most likely wait until after this weekend's two important Derby preps -  the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby - to choose a rider. Jockeys like Calvin Borel, who won the 2010 Derby on Super Saver for Pletcher and WinStar, Mike Smith, who won the 2010 Belmont and 2011 Breeders' Cup Classic for WinStar on Drosselmeyer, and Rafael Bejarano could become available.

"We won a lot of races with and without Javier," Pletcher said Thursday at his Belmont barn. "We'll be okay either way. There are number of good riders that are available. We'll see how things develop over the weekend."

One rider who is off the market is Garrett Gomez, who has been selected to ride Vyjack after Joel Rosario chose to ride Orb. Gomez is winless in nine previous Derby mounts.
Vyjack, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, has won four of five races, including the Grade 3 Jerome and Grade 3 Gotham. He suffered his first loss when he finished third, beaten one length by Verrazano in Saturday's Wood.

David Wilkenfeld, owner of Vyjack, said he was thrilled to get Gomez.

"I think he's one of the top jockeys in the country, what can I say? Terrific," Wilkenfeld said.

darren More than 1 year ago
there is a reason casstallano, has chosen to stay on this stud..thse fous and only 4 trips,all had jaw droppim ,moves,turn of foot. WATCH them dummies, and derby long race his to tke, sleep,eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
darren More than 1 year ago
yea yea yea
Lino Gelormini More than 1 year ago
I think I am in the minority as I love this horse & jock and I'm sure the pace with be scorching hot
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Javier you're my favorite rider but I think you just made a big mistake. Verrazano looks less impressive with every additional 1/16 of a mile and his Beyers show the same thing yet you're basing your decision on the fact the NI was gaining on him? I do respect his decision to go with his gut as I'm sure Pletcher and Winstar are not thrilled and Pletcher may now give more mounts back to JV. I want Mike Smith, would take Borel, but please oh please no Bejarano!!
Teri Tablack Popovich More than 1 year ago
Give the mount on Revolutionary to Mr. Mike Smith PULEZZZEEEEE!
Thomas Cook More than 1 year ago
Smart jockey. But he has to beat ORB...and 18 also RAN. IMO VERRAZANO tops out @1 1/8. Exhausted after Wood while NI and ORB are 1 1/4 fit already. And better bred.
GreatInvasor More than 1 year ago
If Revolutionary wins the Derby it would only confirm how dumb a decision this is. Who opts off a 2-time graded stakes winner to ride a horse that has only beaten maidens? It's the same reason why trainers don't take jockeys off who have just won on their horses. Let's hope this opens the door for a feel good story for someone like Gary Stevens, Mike Smith, the Derby Master, Calvin Borel or even a Robby Albarado (given his misfortune on Animal Kingdom).
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
You know more then JC?
Boom Dizzle More than 1 year ago
I hope TC sticks with JC cause Todd is one of if not JC's biggest barn however he is not the number 1 in the barn but in all fairness I do believe NI ran the best race anywhere in NA over the weekend in the wood. That horse is dangerous he doesnt need to be upfront and with a little more pace and ground he can finish up with the best of them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NI ran the best but finished 2nd...hmmm, what does that tell you about V
Boom Dizzle More than 1 year ago
that with a little more pace or had he been closer he would've been V
Dave More than 1 year ago
If you're a Normandy Invasion fan that's gotta be great news. I'm just wondering whether he'll be a better price on derby day than his KDFW!
Perl More than 1 year ago
He will be 7-1, give or take, depending upon defections, etc.
Bonnie Singleton More than 1 year ago
Love Revolutionary, that horse has heart and the will to win, looks like a triple crown winner to me. Wish Javier Castellano was riding.
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
I love that horse too. I don't know about triple crown but I love him in the derby. I really don't understand why people like Normandy Invasion. He's a n1x allowance horse just like Nehro was. Yes he has run some good races but none suggest he is the Derby winner. He has never beat winners before and that will be this horses downfall as most of these horses are graded stake winners.
Perl More than 1 year ago
Nehro finished 2nd in the Kentucky Derby.