Jockey Calvin Borel, a Louisville transplant from Louisiana, became the 26th jockey to reach his 5,000th career win. After months of waiting and watching, fans were rewarded on Thursday when Borel guided Hezunsual, at odds of 9-2, to victory in the 6th race at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. to garner the milestone victory.
Borel appeared poised to grab win number 5,000 before Churchill Downs concluded its fall meet last November. He started the meet just 14 wins away from the milestone and ended the meet lacking the mark by 2 wins. Since then the quest for 5,000 wins has been a long and frustrating journey. Borel picked up win 4,999 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La. December 28. Before the Oaklawn Park meet began Jan. 11, the track announced that it would mark the milestone by handing out commemorative Borel trading cards to fans in attendance the day Borel hit 5,000. However, Borel didn't ride opening day because just three days before he found out that what he thought was a sprain of his wrist was actually a break. He spent the next five weeks recuperating and returned to racing Feb 18.
Borel has 33,736 career starts over his 25-year career. He began his professional racing career at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, Louisiana, near his hometown of Catahoula, Louisiana. Borel has won the Kentucky Derby three times. His first Derby victory was aboard Street Sense in 2007 when he earned his moniker “Bo-Rail” as he guided the colt from the back of the field, through traffic, and up the rail in a thrilling finish.
Two years later, Borel pulled an upset with 50-1 Mine That Bird, another rail victory. Just a day earlier, in the Kentucky Oaks, Borel coasted to victory with the favorite Rachel Alexandra. He was the seventh jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Double. He chose to ride the filly in the Preakness Stakes two weeks later and beat out his Kentucky Derby mount for the victory.
In 2010, Borel became the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times within four years when he guided Super Saver to victory. Later that year, he became the second jockey (behind Hall of Famer Pat Day) to hit the 1,000 win mark at Churchill Downs. Also that year, Borel was awarded the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, an award that honors riders whose careers and personal character garner respect for the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Borel was nominated to the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Photo: J. Oswald