Javier Castellano has been hired by Fox Hill Farm to ride Normandy Invasion in the April 6 Wood Memorial (gr. I), it was reported on Fox Hill’s website.
Trained by Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion finished a fast-closing fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds in his 3-year-old debut. Unfortunately, the son of Tapit did not earn any points, and with only four points for finishing second in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) last year, he needs to finish first or second in the Wood to secure a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
"Chad has been working with Javier and his agent and we agreed today on the details,” said Fox Hill owner Rick Porter. “Javier will stick with us as long as Normandy Invasion is running well. This sounds like a great team. Javier will breeze Normandy before the race."
One of those likely to stand in Normandy Invasion’s way is the undefeated Verrazano, winner of the March 9 Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II). Another undefeated horse, Vyjack, winner of the Gotham Stakes (gr. II), also is being pointed for the Wood.
Normandy Invasion was a $230,000 purchase at the Keeneland April 2-year-olds in training sale.
Castellano had been the regular rider of Violence for Todd Pletcher, but the CashCall Futurity (gr. I) winner suffered a career-ending injury in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II).