Weekend Takeaways: Castellano on an 'amazing' Keeneland tear

April 15, 2019 02:52pm
Weekend Takeaways: Castellano on an 'amazing' Keeneland tear
Photo: Nedim Slijepcevic
Javier Castellano, plenty familiar with the way to Keeneland's winner's circle, has spent a near-record amount of time there this spring.

The Hall of Fame jockey on Saturday came within one victory of the all-time mark for stakes wins in a single meet at the Lexington, Ky., track when he guided Rushing Fall in a gate-to-wire finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1).

“It’s amazing. I really didn’t even think about it,” Castellano said. “There’s a lot of high expectations in this meet, but you never know what’s going to happen. You have to go with the flow. I’m thankful for where it’s gotten me.”

“He’s doing great this meet. He’s got it right,” trainer Chad Brown added. “It’s impressive work.”

Previous stakes wins came in the Palisades Turf Sprint with Bulletin, Transylvania (G3) with Avie’s Flatter, Madison (G1) with Spiced Perfection, Blue Grass (G2) with Vekoma and Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) with Delta Prince.

“But who holds the record?” Castellano asked.

For now, it belongs to Pat Day, who won seven Keeneland stakes in the spring of 1998. 
“I’m just trying to enjoy the ride, do my homework, try to be focused and be in tune with my horses,” said Castellano, who also leads all jockeys with 14 wins in the spring meet.

Mind you, the conversation happened as fans mobbed the 41-year-old for autographs and photos.

“Mentally and physically you prepare to come to these meets, and you always try to account for everything, but you never know what’s going to happen and where things are going to go,” he continued. “I’m just so thankful that I’ve gotten these opportunities with these horses. It’s been a great ride so far.”

Castellano, who has 56 wins in 2019 with earnings of just more than $8.6 million, added that he's “unsure” about which mount he will have in the Kentucky Derby, though the jockey did say, “I definitely want to be there, I know that.”

Rushing Fall solid in her return

Rushing Fall, who was coming off a five-month layoff, looked like a tired horse late in the Jenny Wiley, but had the class to defeat Brown stablemate Rymska to go 4-for-4 on the Keeneland turf.

“There were a lot of hands that contributed to this horse’s development, and where she is today, and I couldn’t be prouder," Brown said.

The dominating filly glided through fractions of 23.81, 48.41 and 1:13.62, before finishing the 1 1/16 run on the track listed “firm” turf course in 1:42.77, owning the daylight advantage. 

“You know what, I think she’s stronger,” said Castellano of Rushing Fall, last raced in a winning effort at the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cups Stakes (G2) on Oct. 13.

“I mean, you can tell this is a special horse,” he continued.  “I think this is going to be a good feeling for her the rest of the year.  She came back so strong.  She ran her race.”

Saturday marked the seventh win in eight career races (seven graded stakes) for the $1.5 million career earning 4-year-old, who is an older female turf horse to watch in 2019. 

Anothertwistafate on the outside looking in 

It was a win and you’re in situation for the son of Scat Daddy Saturday at Keeneland, but the Lexington Stakes (G3) had a cruel twist of fate for the Blaine Wright trainee, as the post time favorite finished second to party crasher Owendale, possibly missing the Kentucky Derby cut by 1 3/4 lengths.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens now,” said Wright.

The third place finisher in the Sunland Derby (G3), Anothertwistafate sits 23rd on the board with 38 points — earning 10 from Saturday’s second place finish — in need of defections to find his way into the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

“It’s disappointing, no doubt,” said Castellano, who had the mount Saturday. “I thought he ran a good race, but we got caught.  This is a good horse though. No matter what, you haven’t heard the last of him.”

Anothertwistafate sits behind the 20th place Japanese entry Master Fencer, as well as Bodexpress and Signalman.

No laughing matter

Last year’s noted Kentucky Derby prep and Preakness Stakes participant Quip made his second start back count, winning the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) over a sloppy track by a neck against Lone Sailor.

Sure, Omaha Beach's Arkansas Derby (G1) and Midnight Bisou's Apple Blossom (G1) stole the headlines, but in a handicap division again devoid of much stardom at this point in the year, Quip is beginning to emerge.

Topping a field that included Tenfold, Lookin At Lee and Giant Expectations, Quip finished the mile run in 1:37.46, making his first trip to the winner's circle since the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) in March of last year.  He finished second in the 2018 Arkansas Derby. 

“He broke really clean,” said winning rider Jose Ortiz. “He put in a good position early, but I had to fight with Joel Rosario (on Giant Expectations) to keep I got a lucky I had the horse. Last time, they went really fast off the layoff. Quip was very game and never let them by him.”

“He had to make an early move and was very wide on the turn, but the horse ran his usual race,” said trainer Rodolphe Brisset. “He’s been taking us on a fun ride.”

Quip finished third in the Hal’s Hopes Stakes (G3) in February in his first start back at age 4.


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