Javier Castellano Wins 2023 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award

March 2, 2023

Javier Castellano. (Coady Photography)

Four-Time Eclipse Award Winner will receive Woolf Memorial Award at Ceremony to be held at Santa Anita this Spring

Santa Anita Press Release

ARCADIA, Calif.—A four-time Eclipse Award winner and a member of racing’s Hall of Fame since 2017, Venezuelan native Javier Castellano has won the 2023 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award via a nationwide vote of his fellow riders.  

Castellano, 45, will be honored in a Runhappy Winner’s Circle ceremony at Santa Anita this spring.  Married to his wife, Abby, Castellano, who immigrated to the United States in June of 1997, has three children, Kayla, Sienna and Brady and is the son-in-law of Terry Meyocks, National Director of the Jockeys’ Guild.

Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950 and one of the most coveted awards in racing, the Woolf Award, which recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character garner esteem for the individual and the sport of Thoroughbred racing, can only be won once.

“I am proud to have been honored and selected to win this incredible award,” said Castellano. “It is one that is obviously prestigious, but to be voted by my fellow riders truly makes this so special. I admire my fellow nominees as well as the other incredible riders that have won this award in years past.

“The significance of this award definitely does not go unnoticed. I have so many people to thank and I look forward to having my family with me to accept this award at Santa Anita.”

Named for the late Hall of Fame jockey who gained national acclaim by winning the inaugural Santa Anita Handicap on Feb. 23, 1935, aboard Azucar and later by piloting the immortal Seabiscuit to victory over Triple Crown Champion War Admiral in match race at Pimlico Race Course on Nov. 1, 1938, the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award has been won by most of the greatest names in the history of the sport.

The son of a jockey, Castellano’s first winner came aboard Phone Man on July 31, 1997, at Calder Racecourse. Castellano would soon become a dominant force in New York, winning a combined 12 riding titles at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga.

Castellano aboard Ghostzapper taking the Breeders’ Cup. (Cindy Pierson Dulay/Horse-Races.net)

A winner of four consecutive Eclipse Awards as North America’s Champion Jockey from 2013 though 2016, Castellano rose to national prominence on Oct. 30, 2004, when he guided the Frank Stronach homebred and Bobby Frankel-trained Ghostzapper to victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Lone Star Park.

Second all-time only to fellow Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Castellano now has career purse earnings of more than $377 million and through Dec. 31, 2022, had recorded 5,595 career wins. A winner of a record six Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga, Castellano’s mounts earned a then-record $28.1 million in 2015. 

A winner of a total of 12 Breeders’ Cup races, Castellano’s other major victories include two Preakness Stakes (2006 & 2017), and the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. 

Castellano was joined on this year’s Woolf ballot by fellow finalists Daniel Centeno, Terry Houghton, Edwin Maldonado and Willie Martinez.

A date for the Woolf Award presentation ceremony at Santa Anita will be announced soon.

@jonathanstettin, Thank you so much! You are all class!

Mary Rampellini (@DRFRampellini) View testimonials