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#Javier Castellano wins big at Belmont after coronavirus battle

Javier Castellano wins big at Belmont after coronavirus battle

June 4, 2020 | 1:14am

Two months after testing positive for COVID-19, Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano came out on top as the biggest winner Wednesday at Belmont Park’s opening day.

Riding on Rushing Fall, Castellano won the $100,000 Grade 3 Beaugay Stakes, going wire-to-wire in the 1 1/16 mile turf race.

“So happy to be here,” the 42-year-old Castellano said. “It’s a roller coaster. I’ve been through a little pretty rough time lately, the last couple months, with the virus, everything quarantine. It was pretty rough. Thank God we hung [in there]. I’m here, and I’m looking forward big-time for this summer and moving forward.”

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In a March 24 test at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Castellano tested positive for coronavirus despite not feeling any of the symptoms. He quarantined in Florida before getting cleared to race at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs in May. All of his COVID-19 tests since have come back negative, he said.

“Thank God, very healthy,” Castellano said. “I’ve been in good shape all the time. … Even when I had COVID-19, thank God I didn’t have any symptoms. I was asymptomatic. I’ve been trying to maintain a light weight and keep training, little by little. I feel good, feel great. I’m being tested everywhere I go.”

Castellano said he has tested positive for antibodies, but not knowing for sure whether that gives him immunity, he is keeping careful and following all safety precautions.

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The main jockeys’ rooms at Belmont has been restricted to stations for 12 jockeys while the rest are spread out in other areas to allow for social distancing. All jockeys and valets had to provide a recent negative COVID-19 test or positive antibody test, though Castellano indicated there were some valets who were barred because they did not get test results back in time.

“Just a [few] issues we need to address,” Castellano said. “We need to be very cautious. … Hopefully everything comes out good.”

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