Jockey Abel Castellano earned his 1,000th career win Dec. 19 when he guided Johnny Z. to victory in the fifth race at Laurel Park.
“I am really happy my family could be here for my 1,000th win,” said Castellano, 24, who added win 1,001 a race later. “It is my wife’s birthday. My son turned two last week and we are expecting another baby, so I am proud.”
Castellano arrived in Maryland in the spring of 2003 and made an immediate impact by winning the Laurel Park fall meet riding title. He was a member of the colony through 2005 but spent nearly two years riding in New York, South Florida and Delaware before returning to Maryland full-time last month to ride first call for leading trainer Scott Lake.
“I had some good years here but had to leave when business got slow,” added Castellano. “This can be a tough business and I am fortunate to be able to come back and ride for someone like Scott Lake.”
The younger brother of top rider Javier Castellano has victories at 20 racetracks during his young career, including all three Triple Crown tracks as well as Gulfstream Park, Saratoga and Keeneland.
“I have called Pimlico, Churchill and Belmont home during my career,” Castellano said. “You learn so much when riding against some of the top riders in the business.”
Castellano becomes the third rider during the Laurel fall meeting to reach a milestone, joining Mario Pino, who on Nov. 7 became the 15th rider in North American history to win 6,000 races, and Travis Dunkelberger, who reached the winner's circle for the 3,000th time on Nov. 28.