Edited Release, courtesy Gulfstream Park
Calling it “the biggest challenge of my life,” popular Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano has overcome being diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Castellano, 42, spent 14 days in quarantine at the South Florida home of his 64-year-old mother, where Gulfstream’s five-time Championship Meet leading rider had been since testing positive upon his arrival from New York to ride over GI Curlin Florida Derby weekend in late March.
As part of strict protocols put into place by Gulfstream management, all riders who came in from out of town were required to be tested off-site before being allowed to ride. Castellano, who had not stepped foot on Gulfstream property since he last rode Mar. 15, received positive results.
“I give credit to Gulfstream Park,” Castellano said. “They set up procedures to follow because of the situation and enforced it. Whoever came in from out of town had to have a test. That’s the only way to ride. It was great, because I would have never found out. I would have been fine, but maybe I would have contaminated a lot of people.”
Castellano said his mother and his family are all in good health. After being tested twice more following quarantine, and without any commitments to ride at Gulfstream, Castellano returned to New York Tuesday night once given clearance by health officials in Florida. He hopes to return to the irons the first weekend of May.
“I’ll be honest with you, the scariest part of this was mentally,” Castellano said. “It affected me mentally and emotionally a lot. It challenged me. Everything is good, thank God. I’m doing really well.”