Castillo expected to lose this race Laurel apprentice up for an Eclipse

January 22, 1993|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

The list of top horses and jockeys announced last week as finalists for a 1992 Eclipse Award included only one contender with a Maryland connection.

It is 19-year-old Freddy Castillo, the leading apprentice at Laurel Race Course and sixth-ranked jockey in the overall standings.

But when the Eclipse Awards are announced on ESPN (on The Daily Racing Form's "Thoroughbred Digest" Feb. 1), the winner in the apprentice category is expected to be Florida-based Jesus Bracho and not Castillo.

Castillo earned enough votes to place him among the top three apprentices in the nation, but he ranks third behind Bracho and Rosemary Homeister in both earnings and number of winners, according to statistics compiled by The Daily Racing Form.

"It will be the biggest disappointment of my career as a [jockey's] agent," said Gordon Becraft, who took over Castillo's book about four months ago.

"I think Freddy rode just as good as Mark Johnston and Mike Luzzi did when they had the 'bug.' "

Both Maryland-based jockeys won the Eclipse apprentice award.

"It was just bad timing," Becraft said. "Things didn't start to click for us until a couple of weeks ago. And then King Leatherbury didn't use the 'bug' much at all last year. Single-handedly, King, with as many winners as he sends out, has made champion 'bug' boys. But he said he was happy with the older jockeys he was using and didn't have an owner who really wanted to ride an apprentice."

Castillo started his career at Philadelphia Park where his older brother Richard is a jockey and his father, Octavio, and uncle Roberto are working horsemen.

His family originally emigrated to Louisiana from Santiago, Chile, when he was about 8.

"We were like other poor Spanish families, coming to the U.S. to make a better life," he said.

The family moved to the Philadelphia area when his brother Richard started to ride.

Castillo came to Maryland in May at the request of another agent. But when his career failed to take off, he hooked up with Becraft.

"It's been uphill ever since," Castillo said.

He said he won't be disappointed if Bracho wins the award.

"I wish I could have done better," he said. "But there are a million other guys who want to be where I am."

Castillo hopes he can make a successful transition to journeyman status when his apprenticeship is up on Feb. 24.

"Like other bug riders, I used to send [hustle horses] a lot," he said. "Now, I'm riding a lot wiser. I definitely want to stay in Maryland and see if I can make it here."

NOTES: Silver Tango nipped A True Punch at the wire in the $25,000 feature yesterday. The mare came into the race off of a 12-length loss in the Alma North Handicap at Garden State Park on the opening night of its current meet. "The track was like a plowed field that night," said jockey Mike Luzzi. "She ran a little ways, and then just didn't extend herself." . . . Hall of Fame trainer Henry Clark celebrated his 89th birthday earlier this week. Retired starter Eddie Blind turned 86.

Leading apprentices


Jesus Bracho Data: 24; born in Los Deques, Venezeula

Rides: At Gulfstream Park. Lost the bug Feb. 19, 1993

First win: Nov. 26, 1991, at Hialeah Race Course

1992 record: 1,186 mounts, 236 wins, 159 seconds, 131 thirds

Earnings: $2,076,772

& Rosemary Homeister Data: 20; born in Hollywood, Fla.

Rides: At Gulfstream Park. Loses bug in June 1993. Currently serving 10-day suspension at Gulfstream for careless riding

First win: April 22, 1992, at Calder Race Course

1992 record: 990 mounts, 173 wins, 139 seconds, 140 thirds

Earnings: $1,775,458

# Freddy Castillo Data: 19; born in Santiago, Chile

Rides: At Laurel. Currently sixth in the Maryland jockey standings. Loses bug Feb. 24, 1993

First win: Dec. 4, 1991, at Philadelphia Park

1992 record: 865 mounts, 114 wins, 109 seconds, 107 thirds

Earnings: $910,990

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