Venezuelan Jockey Rides To Victory over American Pharaoh

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Keen Ice goes by American Pharoah to win the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29, 2015. (NBC image)
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Keen Ice goes by American Pharoah to win the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29, 2015. (NBC image)
Christmas in August

News Americas, SARATOGA, NY, Mon. Aug. 31, 2015: A Venezuelan jockey on Saturday secured a mega upset in the $1.6 million Travers Stakes in Saratoga over touted favorite, American Pharoah, ridden by Mexican jockey Victor Espinoza.

Javier Castellano, 37, riding Keen Ice, completed the come from behind upset before 50,000 to take down the Triple Crown champion.

A 16-1 shot, Keen Ice, Castellano, who began his riding career in 1996 at La Rinconada and Santa Rita racetracks in Venezuela, completed the stunner while making history as the only jockey to win the Travers five times.

Keen Ice ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.57 and returned $34, $6.50 and $3.80.

“Well, very fortunate and very lucky to win my fifth Travers in my career,” Castellano said after the race. “It’s blessed, and tenfold because not that many riders have that way.”

It’s the second straight year Castellano rode a long shot to victory in the Travers. He piloted 19-1 V.E. Day to a photo-finish triumph over Wicked Strong last summer.

“You’ve got to be lucky,” Castellano said. “You’ve got to be in the right place at that time, a lot of support. A lot of trainers, owners, they give me the support through all the races in my career.”

“American Pharoah’s legacy is not tarnished in any way,” winning trainer Dale Romans said. “Secretariat got beat, Seattle Slew got beat, Affirmed got beat. They are great sportsmen for keeping him running and taking a chance with him. He has run very hard all year and he ran a very good race today. He was pressed, (Frosted) took it to him, and we were fortunate to be running behind.”

After sweeping the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, American Pharoah toyed with his opponents and easily won the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2. But whether it’s the travel — about 19,000 miles by air and horse van, and over 10 miles of racing — or the curse of the Spa, the future of the 3-year-old colt has a new look.

Ahmed Zayat, the outspoken owner of American Pharoah, was emotional after the loss and made strong hints that the Travers may be the brilliant colt’s final race. Only one of 12 Triple Crown winners has been able to go on and win the Travers — Whirlaway in 1941.

 

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