Castellano Picks Normandy Invasion for Derby
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Adam Mooshian
Normandy Invasion and Javier Castellano (left) finished 2nd in the Wood Memorial.
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Jockey Javier Castellano has committed to ride Fox Hill Farms' Wood Memorial (gr. I) runner-up Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), agent Matt Muzikar confirmed April 11, leaving Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Revolutionary open.

Castellano rode WinStar Farms' Revolutionary to victory in the Withers Stakes (gr. III) and Louisiana Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher. He rode the Chad Brown-trained Normandy Invasion for the first time in the Wood, finishing three-quarters of a length behind undefeated Verrazano  .

"It was a very, very tough decision," Muzikar said. "These were some of our best clients; we just won a million-dollar race on Revolutionary and we ran huge with Normandy Invasion. WinStar are great supporters of ours and of course there's our man Todd."

Normandy Invasion, by Tapit  , has a win and two seconds from five starts, with earnings of $300,240 and 44 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby, which puts him 11th on the leader board for the 20-horse field. Revolutionary, a son of War Pass, has a 3-1-2 record from six starts, earnings of $788,500, and ranks fourth with 110 points.

"Javier really liked the way Normandy Invasion ran in the Wood; he thought two more strides and he would have caught Verrazano, and he thought he galloped out strong," Muzikar said. "There's pros and cons to every situation—Revolutionary has a lot of heart and grit—but it's just one of those things where we had to choose."

Elliott Walden, president and racing manager of WinStar Farm, said a rider for Revolutionary would be chosen after the weekend stakes races. The Arkansas Derby (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland will play a determining factor in which jockeys are still looking for a Derby mount.

"We're keeping our options open through the weekend; we haven't signed off on anybody," Walden said. "We've got a few people in mind; there's plenty of guys out there that are very capable on Derby day.

"We've got a really nice horse and Matt and Javier were in a tough position; they ride a lot of horses for both trainers, and they would have loved to have ridden both of them, but obviously they can't. Now that Javier has chosen to ride Normandy Invasion, we have options."

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