It took Javier Castellano a long time to get to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. But after he got there, he wasted no time thanking Jesus Christ for helping him complete the journey.
“First of all, Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to win the Derby – the dream trip for any jockey, trainer, any horses in the industry of racing. “I never give up, I always try hard, do the right thing. It took me a little while to get there but finally I got it. I’ve been blessed.”
“First of all, thank you Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the opportunity to win the Derby.”
Javier Castellano gives praise where it’s due after winning first Kentucky Derby
(📺 – NBC Sports) pic.twitter.com/OayiIpTavx
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) May 6, 2023
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 6, 2023
Following a week of tragic horse deaths and late pre-race scratches, Castellano and the horse who carried him, Mage, began the race in the rear of the race facing 15-1 odds. 15 is a significant number. It’s also the number of times Castellanos had ridden in the Kentucky Derby before Saturday’s race.
“And truly, to give me the opportunity, the horse, the way he did it today,” Castellano said. “The little Mage, he did really well today. He’s got a lot of heart. It’s a little horse but big heart.”
Horse racing is one of the few sports where someone who stands 4 feet, 11 inches tall can get away with calling a horse “little.” But, reports are Mage didn’t take it too personally.
Two Phil’s and Angel of Empire appeared headed for a photo finish before Castellano took Mage wide, and the horse found an extra gear.
Castellano wasn’t the only member of his family to praise God at the end of the race. The jockey’s brother, Abel, took to Twitter to celebrate God.
“My brother Won’t the Kentucky Derby wow!!,’ he wrote in obvious excitement. God is great. [Praise] lord Jesus.’