Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Calvin Borel, 2009.

Jockey for Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby winner)
and Rachel Alexandra (2009 Preakness Stakes winner).

Image: Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky (Wikipedia Commons).

Will the next Triple Crown Winner in American Horse Racing have only two legs?

Just one week from today In just a few hours, Calvin Borel could make history by becoming the first jockey to ever win the Triple Crown in American horse racing — riding different horses. He won the Kentucky Derby while riding the 50-1 longshot gelding, Mine That Bird, and then he followed up two weeks later by winning the Preakness Stakes — going wire to wire — on the spectacular filly, Rachel Alexandra (Mine That Bird was a fast-closing second). Even though Borel is contractually bound to ride Rachel Alexandra during her three-year-old year, I think he preferred to ride her anyway, since he did mention that she is the best horse he’s ever ridden. That’s saying a lot, since Borel has ridden tens of thousands of horses in his 25-year career as a jockey, has 4,620 victories (only 24 other riders in North America have reached 5,000) — and has three victories in Triple Crown races, so far.

Now the mile-and-one-half Belmont Stakes, the third and most challenging of the Triple Crown races, is just one week away is just a few hours away. Since Rachel Alexandra will not run in that race, Borel is scheduled to to ride Mine That Bird. Considering Borel’s riding style and his uncanny ability to encourage his horses to run their best for him, it appears that Mine That Bird is a sure bet to triumph in the Belmont Stakes. Although, I should caution you by pointing out that Calvin has never ridden in the Belmont Stakes, nor has he ridden a race that is one-and-a-half miles long, so if he wins, it will be the first time that a first ride in this race has yielded a victory.

Of all the Triple Crown races, the Belmont Stakes (one-and-a-half miles) has always been my favorite because I have always thought that the distance is a true test of champion Thoroughbreds, unlike the shorter Kentucky Derby (one-and-a-quarter miles) and the Preakness Stakes (one-and-three-sixteenths miles).

Calvin “Bo-rail” Borel is a short man (known as “booboo” to his family) who was born in St. Martinville, Louisiana on 7 November 1966. He works as a jockey who is well-known in racing circles for his work ethic and for his ability to slip his horses alongside the rail on the racetrack, thereby saving them considerable running distance during races. This ability is honored with his nickname. Borel won his 3,000th race on March 26, 1999, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and his 4,000th race Feb. 16, 2005, at Oaklawn, and became the 34th jockey with 4,500 career victories in North American horse racing. He currently has 31 major racing victories to his credit and has ridden some of the best horses in North American horse racing, including Seek Gold, Delightful Kiss, Brass Hat, Street Sense, Mine That Bird and Rachel Alexandra. Borel has won more than $102 million in purses during his career. Borel currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with his fiance.

Comments

  1. #1 Bob O'H
    June 6, 2009

    Borel has won more than $102 million in purses during his career.

    Wow. They must be covered in diamonds or something. And what does he do with them all?

  2. #2 Catherine
    June 6, 2009

    Actually, the Belmont Stakes is today at 6:27pm Eastern, not in one week. I believe that Borel might turn out to be a liability to Mine That Bird, as he has very little experience riding over this particular track, which is known to be very tricky, and over the mile and a half distance, which is an anachronism in American dirt racing.

  3. #3 "GrrlScientist"
    June 6, 2009

    AH! thanks for letting me know, i stand corrected, and just in time to see the race, too.

  4. #4 Jamie
    June 6, 2009

    Bob – they aren’t PURSES like girls carry, that’s what they call the cash prize, a “purse”. I’m hoping you were being funny…

  5. #5 Coturnix
    June 6, 2009

    The other bird won – Summer Bird wins Belmont Stakes. Mine that Bird 3rd. At least it’s all avian…

  6. #6 "GrrlScientist"
    June 6, 2009

    yeah, the 2009 season is the season of racehorses with really stupid names .. sigh!

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