Bunny's Derby Darlings is a series on my favorite Derby contenders.
Part Eight: Calvin Borel
Things that make you go hmmm: The jockey who has won three out of the past four Derbies is on a longshot who he acquired only ten days before the race, while another jockey who has never finished better than fifth in the past four Derbies is aboard the likely favorite. Hmmm.
After riding Street Sense to victory in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs, Borel guided the Street Cry (IRE) colt into the winner’s circle after a rail-skimming triumph that made Street Sense the only horse to win both the Juvenile, and the Derby. Just two years later, he repeated that textbook ride on 50-1 shot, Mine That Bird. In 2010, he proved he could also win the Derby with a horse near the pace by riding Super Saver, becoming the first jockey to win back to back Kentucky Derbies since Eddie Delahousaye in 1982-83. Calvin Borel is also one of the few jockeys that can claim winning the Oaks and Derby in the same year, riding Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird to their victories in 2009.
Calvin Borel’s Derby mount, Twice The Appeal, may cause opposing trainers to make the same mistake that trainer, Bob Baffert made in the 2009 Derby. Prior to that race Mr. Baffert’s wife, Jill, commented to her husband that he would have to watch out for Calvin Borel. His response was something like, “He’s on the longshot, no worries.” As Baffert stood in the stands watching a little, brown, muddy, gelding zoom by his majestic Santa Anita Derby winner, Pioneerof The Nile, he exclaimed, “WHO THE H*#% IS THAT?!”
Jill replied, “It’s that D*$% Calvin Borel!”
Borel on a longshot and Baffert with another Santa Anita Derby winner racing in the Kentucky Derby this year. Hmmm.
The Jeff Bonde trainee, Twice The Appeal, won the Sunland Derby against Astrology by one and a half lengths, being 2.71 seconds off the track record (which would be about 24 ½ lengths), when the surface was fast. With Christian Santiago-Reyes aboard, the Successful Appeal colt wore blinkers, and a shadowroll. Watching him run, I found him unmemorable, neither good or bad. He had a comfortable stride, but not near as impressive as the top Derby rivals. He sold at the Keeneland Select Yearling sale in September for four thousand dollars, and sold at the Barrets Equine Limited May 2010 Sale of Two-Year-Olds In Training for $35,000.
Typically, I wouldn’t spotlight Twice The Appeal, knowing this horse will go off at high odds, but it would be negligent not to consider any horse that Calvin Borel rides in the Kentucky Derby as a serious contender. There is not one jockey more familiar with the dirt at Churchill Downs. This is Calvin’s Turf, his backyard, his dirt. Calvin on The Downs is the equivalent to a lion on the Serengeti: It’s his habitat and the rest of the field are the antelopes.