Two months after testing positive for COVID-19, Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano stood out as the biggest winner on Wednesday on the opening day of Belmont Park.
In Rushing Fall, Castellano won the $ 100,000 Beaugay Grade 3 bets, going wire-to-wire in the 1 1/16 mile grass race.
“I am so happy to be here,” said Castellano, 42. “It’s a roller coaster ride. I’ve been through a pretty tough time lately, the last two months, with the virus all quarantined. It was pretty tough. Thank God we hung up. [in there]. I’m here and I’m looking forward to this summer and moving on. “
In a March 24 test at Gulfstream Park in Florida, Castellano tested positive for coronavirus despite not feeling any symptoms. He was quarantined in Florida before obtaining clearance to compete at Oaklawn Park and Churchill Downs in May. All of his COVID-19 tests since then have come back negative, he said.
“Thank God, very healthy,” said Castellano. “I’ve been in good shape the whole time. … Even when I had COVID-19, thank God I didn’t have any symptoms. I was asymptomatic. I’ve been trying to keep light weight and keep training, bit by bit. I feel good, I feel great. I’m being evaluated wherever I go. “
Castellano said he has tested positive for antibodies, but without knowing for sure if that gives him immunity, he remains careful and follows all the safety precautions.
The main riders’ rooms in Belmont have been restricted to stations for 12 riders, while the rest are spread out in other areas to allow for social distancing. All riders and valets had to provide a recent negative COVID-19 test or a positive antibody test, although Castellano indicated that there were some valets that were excluded because they did not obtain the test results on time.
“Just a [few] problems that we must address, ”said Castellano. “We need to be very cautious. … I hope everything goes well. “