Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Wednesday, May 29, 2013

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/29/2013 #

In Today’s Notes: Eclipse Award Winner Castro Gets First Local Win, Settles into Colony

It is hard to imagine that a winner an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey (2003) and a Breeders’ Cup (in an initial attempt) has gone fairly unnoticed here at Arlington over the last two weeks.  That is exactly what has occurred in the case of 28-year-old Eddie Castro.

A winner of over 2,000 races in a short career, the Panama-born Castro was thrust into the national racing spotlight when he won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Mile on Miesque’s Approval over a world-class field that included Eclipse Award finalist Aragorn, Beverly D. Stakes-winning Gorella and European classic winner Araafa.  In the previous year, he set a record for an unworldly nine wins in one day at Calder Race Course.

Since, Castro has consistently been a go-to jockey for trainers such as Graham Motion, Bill Mott and Jimmy Toner and earned a reputation as a reliable stakes jockey – especially on turf.  After many seasons in the often cutthroat New York and New Jersey jockey colonies, Castro decided to shift his tack to the jewel of Midwestern racing – Arlington International Racecourse. 

“My business was a little bit slow in New York, and I wanted to work with (agent Dennis) Cooper and come to Arlington and try something different,” said Castro.  A laid back personality, Castro is soaking all of his surroundings in and remaining patient.  “Everything is really nice and the track is great.  The Polytrack is different from riding on the dirt (in New York), but I rode at Keeneland, too, and it’s similar to that.”

After arriving at Arlington a couple of weeks late, Castro has settled into stride quite nicely – highlighted by his first victory on Saturday May 25.  “It feels really good to get that first win.  Hopefully that opens the door,” he remarked afterward.  “The synthetic (on which he won) here is good.  I like Arlington – it’s really nice.  Hopefully I’ll get lucky and win some more here.”   

Even with his considerable accomplishments, Castro respects the fact that he is the new guy.  “It’s always hard to come into a new track with established jockeys – especially when you come in a little bit late,” he said.  “So many jockeys are constantly with the same owners and trainers – but you just have to try and work hard and doors will open.”

Castro has been utilizing that diligent mentality and arriving at the track 5:30 in the morning to work multiple horses for many trainers – even when he does not have mounts until late in the day’s card.  “I hope to ride for everybody,” he said.  “I know I’m new, so I just want to ride for everyone I can.”

Despite arriving a bit tardy, the soft-spoken jockey is also in it for the proverbial long-haul of the season.  “The plan is to stay here until the end of the meet and then decide from there,” he said.  “I want to focus on doing well here, first.”

That ‘here-and-now’ perspective helps the son of a Panamanian produce farmer remain calm and collected.  “There’s a little pressure always to win, even if you have a lot of longshots, but you have to relax,” Castro said.  “I hope to establish myself here.”

As far as his first chance to experience Chicago proper, Castro looks forward to a chance to soak up his new metropolitan surroundings.  “I like really like this area and Chicago a lot, so far.  It’s cleaner and different from New York.  But, I haven’t had a chance to make it to the city yet – but I’ve only been here a couple weekstf.  I have been focusing on riding.” 

That centering on the nucleus of his life is probably why he has accomplished so much so quickly and earned the good favor of some of the world’s best horsemen.  When asked what his goals for the meet are, he displayed the same conscientious constitution.  “The only thing I want to do is to ride well, work hard and have a good meet.”