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enezuelan Triumph at the 149th Kentucky Derby: A Remarkable Victory for Javier Castellano and Gustavo Delgado

Venezuelan Triumph at the 149th Kentucky Derby: A Remarkable Victory for Javier Castellano and Gustavo Delgado

May 07, 2023

The world of horse racing witnessed an extraordinary moment on Saturday, May 6, as Venezuelans Javier Castellano and Gustavo Delgado secured victory at the 149th Kentucky Derby. The dynamic duo, comprising the skilled jockey Castellano and the seasoned coach Delgado, emerged triumphant, etching their names in the annals of this prestigious equestrian event.

Javier Castellano, hailing from Maracaibo, Zulia state, aged 45, competed in the derby astride the formidable horse, Mage. Delgado, expressing his confidence in the lead-up to the event, shared, "When I came to the United States, my first dream was: I want to win the Derby, from Kentucky, I want to win the Kentucky Derby. I have participated twice without luck, but this time he was sure he would win."

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Against the odds, Mage, with 15-1 betting odds, clinched victory, outpacing competitors Dos Phil's (2nd) and Angel of Empire (3rd). This unexpected triumph added another layer of excitement to a week marked by controversy at Churchill Downs, where seven horses lost their lives, casting a shadow over the event.

For Castellano, this win fulfills a lifelong dream he harbored since arriving in the United States in 1996. Throughout his illustrious career, he earned a place among the top 10 riders with the most annual wins since 2010. His accolades include victories in the Breeders' Cup Classic (2004) and Preakness Stakes (2006 and 2017), along with multiple Eclipse Awards and an induction into the Hall of Fame of the National Museum of Horse Racing in 2017.

This triumph holds special significance for Venezuela, marking the second time in history that a team of Venezuelans has claimed victory at the Kentucky Derby. The first instance dates back to 1971 when Gustavo Avila and trainer Juan Arias secured the coveted title.

Gustavo Delgado: A Celebrated Coach

Gustavo Delgado, the coach behind this remarkable feat, turns 66 on May 15, and he is already eyeing the next challenge—the Preakness Stakes (G1) scheduled for Saturday, May 20, at Pimlico Track. The Preakness Stakes presents an opportunity for another crown and further glory for this accomplished duo.

Delgado boasts an impressive coaching record in Venezuela and the Caribbean, having won the Triple Crown of Venezuela twice with Taconeo and Water Jet, and the Caribbean Classic three times with Gran Abuelo, Bambera, and Water Jet. His association with Juan Arias, who secured victory in the 1971 Derby, adds a touch of continuity and legacy to his coaching career.

Two Years of Venezuelan Dominance

This triumph follows the surprising victory in 2022 when Sonny León, another Venezuelan, stunned the Kentucky Derby with Rich Strike, an 80-1 underdog. The back-to-back victories highlight the prowess of Venezuelan talent in the competitive world of horse racing.

Looking Ahead

As the racing community celebrates this historic win, attention now turns to the upcoming challenges. The coach, Gustavo Delgado, will be striving to prepare his horse for the Preakness Stakes, aiming for another moment of glory in the racing calendar.

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