Florida Derby jockey Javier Castellano tests positive for coronavirus

Adam Lichtenstein, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Horse Racing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Veteran jockey Javier Castellano, who is scheduled to race in Saturday's Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, tweeted Thursday that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus,.

"After being in New York with my family last week, I was asked by Gulfstream to come early to Florida to get tested for the virus," Castellano wrote. "I was asymptomatic all along. Unfortunately the test came back last night as positive. I am otherwise healthy but will follow the doctors (sic) order to quarantine for the next (two) weeks. I have no known contact with anyone that has tested positive. I appreciate the support from everyone including Gulfstream Park. Stay safe everyone and we will all get through this God willing."

Castellano, who has been one of the three top earners on the North American earnings list for nine straight years, last raced at Gulfstream Park on March 15 but has not raced there since, Gulfstream Park spokesman David Joseph said.

Joseph said Castellano would not have been allowed on Gulfstream Park property without a physical and a doctor's clearance.

"It was confirmed this morning that Javier Castellano tested positive for COVID-19" said John Panagot, Castellano's agent, in a statement released on Twitter. "Because of Gulfstream Park's strict COVID-19 protocol, Javier was required to take a physical since he had recently flown. Following his physical, he took the COVID-19 test on Tuesday. Javier is asymptomatic and feels fine and healthy. He jogged (three) miles Wednesday and had looked forward to riding this weekend at Gulfstream. He will self-isolate until he is medically cleared."

Castellano, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2017, was originally scheduled to have four mounts Thursday at Gulfstream Park, according to the entries that were set Sunday, before the physical.

Gulfstream Park has instituted multiple new procedures and restrictions while still running races during the coronavirus pandemic, including reducing access to the track, grandstand and saddling paddock, restricting the number of personnel at the track, barring spectators from races, prohibiting contact between jockeys, disinfecting starting gates between races and more. The track has been running races without spectators since March 12.

The City of Hallandale Beach has asked Gulfstream Park to postpone its races, in accordance with Broward County's executive order closing businesses deemed nonessential, according to Vice Mayor Sabrina Javellana, but the park has moved forward with races.


"I'm very sad for Mr. Castellanos and just hoping for his recovery," Javellana said Thursday. "I don't know anything about people or places he's been in contact with or when he could have contracted (the virus) only that the last time he raced at Gulfstream was March 15th and that he planned to race this weekend.

"The Park really needs to see this as a wake up call and follow the lead of many other states like Kentucky and Maryland, countries like Ireland and South Africa and events like the Dubai World Cup and Kentucky Derby that are either canceling or postponing to later this year. I have gotten communication from horse lab techs, physicians, residents, and jockeys who would like to see racing at GP stopped for now while the horses though continue to receive their care. The more immediate action we take now to stop community spread of the Coronavirus the more we can flatten the curve and not see our hospitals in the state overwhelmed."

The county order that went into effect Monday describes essential businesses as grocery stores, doctor's offices, gas stations, pharmacies and several other types of businesses.

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