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Castellano Has Tough Decision to Make

As the August days continue to tick down, Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano knows his decision has to come sooner than later.

Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Mage . Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Arcangelo .

Which one will he ride in the $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 26?

On Aug. 6, Castellano said he honestly doesn’t know.

“I keep praying and I hope I make the right decision,” Castellano said after working Arcangelo five furlongs in 1:00.21 on the main track at the Spa. “I will make the decision soon; I wish I could wait a little longer.”

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Castellano, who has won the Travers a record six times, has had to choose between two before, but never has the choice been between two high profile horses like these.

When he won the Derby with Mage, it was the first time he won the Run for the Roses and it came in his 16th try. The Belmont with Arcangelo represented his first victory in that race in his 15th attempt.

Both horses are expected to be formidable challengers in the Travers. 

“Somebody is going to be upset,” Castellano said. “They are both very good horses; one is the Derby winner, the other the Belmont. I don’t know what I am going to do.”

On Aug. 6, Arcangelo and Castellano, accompanied to the main track with trainer Jena Antonucci on a pony, put in a solid work. NYRA clockers got him galloping out strongly through splits of 1:26 1/5, 1:39 and 1:53.

“That was the focus,” Antonucci said about the gallop out. “Obviously, he is a two-turn horse; we are not sprinting so it doesn’t really matter what happens before the half.”

This was Arcangelo’s fourth Saratoga work, the first  on July 5. Antonucci said she has just one more work planned for the son of Arrogate  before the Travers.

There has been no strict plan for Arcangelo’s work schedule. His Saratoga works have been between nine and 11 days apart.

“Everyone has their own cup of tea and I am not everyone’s cup of tea and that is totally fine,” Antonucci said. “I have a horse with so much stamina and cruising speed. I find there is no reason to ask him every seven days. What are you going to get from it? He gets so so much out of his gallops; this is just making sure we are staying on top of our game. Every horse has their own thing. Some are seven days, some are 10. He has really settled into his own bubble.”


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