By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office
OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano kicked off the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet in style, winning with 5-of-9 mounts on the 10-race card.
Castellano, who won four straight Eclipse Awards from 2013-16, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017 when he was just 39-years-old.
“It’s a very competitive game and I don’t take anything for granted,” Castellano said. “Everything has to come together at the right place and the right time. I’m very lucky to have all the owners and trainers give me an opportunity to ride their horses. Especially today on a special day when a lot of jockeys are at the Breeders’ Cup. My agent, P.J. Campo, did a great job finding the right horses.”
Castellano said he is hopeful the impressive day is a harbinger of good things to come on Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup card at Keeneland where he will pilot Sterling Silver [Filly and Mare Sprint], Ivar [Mile] and Nautilus [Turf].
“It’s amazing to win five races the day before I go to the Breeders’ Cup,” Castellano said. “You get the momentum and the confidence in yourself and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully, we can knock out one or two at the Breeders’ Cup.”
Castellano started the card on the right foot with an impressive maiden score by the Chad Brown-trained Fireline [No. 7, $5.90] in the day’s opening race, a one-mile maiden special weight over the main track for juvenile fillies.
The veteran rider swept Races 5-7, beginning with Control Function [No. 7, $2.90] for Brown in a 1 1/16-mile claimer over the inner turf. He followed by guiding Highway Harmony [No. 3, $3.60] to a maiden score for conditioner Jorge Abreu and completed the mid-card natural hat trick with Candle [No. 4, $14.20], who staved off the late-running Sweetlou’sgotaces to notch a maiden score over the outer turf for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
Castellano completed the quintet of victories in the Race 10 finale as Sweetness [No. 4, $9] drew off to score in a 1 1/16-mile inner turf maiden to give Abreu his second winner on the card.
Live racing resumes Saturday at Aqueduct with a 10-race card, including the $120,000 Atlantic Beach in Race 4 and $120,000 Stewart Manor in Race 7. First post is 10:50 a.m. Eastern. Doors will open at 10 a.m.
America’s Day at the Races will present live coverage and analysis of the Aqueduct fall meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the broadcast schedule and channel finder, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.
NYRA Bets is the best way to bet every race of the Aqueduct Racetrack fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.