By Paul Sykes
He’s known as Calvin “Bo-rail” around Churchill Downs because of his fondness for getting his horses to run on the rail and having a great deal of success in getting them to first place with the tactic. Friday, in the Kentucky Oaks, he didn’t really need the strategy with Rachel Alexandria. She could have won by winning thru the infield with a side trip to Jim Patterson Stadium as well. Maybe even jogged down to the YUM Center and shot a few threes with Edgar Sosa. In the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby, though, the plan paid off big time. At 50-1.
Splashing away to a 6-3/4-length victory, Mine That Bird blew away the rest of the field in the stretch and gave Borel his second Derby win in three years. It was the strategy that a patient ride would get the job done, so Calvin waiting…riding far back behind the leaders on the rail, dancing off it to pass a few tiring horses, then zipping back to the rail and flying by the leaders. Just like Wooley told him to. Just like the way Calvin did with Street Sense in 2007.
It is Borel’s amazing ability to calculate the race as it goes on and make the decision on how to get to the line first that sets him apart from the common, ordinary everyday jockey. It’s also amazing that none of the high profile trainers and multimillion-dollar owner ship had Calvin’s services on their mounts. Just a New Mexico trainer who had a dream to run in the big race and found the guy that knew Churchill.
The Derby Party we attended yesterday screamed in disbelief as the cagey Calvin pulled away. Somewhere out in the infield is the guy from Cleveland we met Friday who had a $5 Oaks/Derby double with “Calvin and Calvin”…Rachel Alexandria and Mine that Bird. I know I didn’t have the winner. My only solace was drawing Mine That Bird in the $2 jackpot for the Derby Race. $38 was nice. $102 would have been better.
As we drove home late last night, a sleepy Sonja muttered that she wouldn’t get as fired up about all the trappings and proceedings leading up to Derby next year. Most likely would have been a different attitude if she had the winning ticket in her possession. It’s still the “greatest two minutes in sports”…where the little guys still have a shot at pulling the upset and dreams can come true. Did the scratch of I Want Revenge from the race have a big impact? We’ll never know for sure, but he did love the slop. What we do know is that we now have the first New Mexico based horse to win the Derby now and just one more reason why you can never count Calvin out.