Famous for riding superstar filly, Rachel Alexandra, Calvin Borel was already a successful jockey before he ever mounted the famous filly.
Born November 7, 1966 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, Calvin Borel grew up on a sugarcane farm in the heart of Cajun country. He was the youngest of five children and was born twelve years after the fourth child. Given the nickname “Boo-Boo” because his conception was an accident, Calvin Borel began riding Quarter Horses at the age of eight at brush tracks. He then dropped out of the eighth grade to become a jockey. He rode in his first professional race at the age of sixteen.
Calvin Borel is known around the track for his work ethic. He often helps his brother, trainer Cecil Borel, muck stalls. Cecil has become kind of a second father to him. Calvin Borel also gallops horses and does other stable duties while working for other trainers.
Borel spent many years out of the spotlight. He didn’t win his first grade one race, the $750,000 Stephen Foster aboard 92-1 longshot Seek Gold, until 2006. Calvin Borel was aboard Street Sense when he won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 2007 Kentucky Derby. Street Sense was the first horse to win the Juvenile and Derby. He was also aboard Rachel Alexandra when she won the Kentucky Oaks and Mine That Bird when he won the Kentucky Derby in 2009. Calvin Borel has also ridden champion Gourmet Girl and 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
Known as Calvin Bo-Rail for his paint scraping rides along the rail, Borel has won riding titles at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, and the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. In winning his 1995 championship at Oaklawn Park, he dethroned Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day, who had won the title every year since 1982. He won ESPY Award for top jockey in 2007 and 2009. With earnings of over $9.2 million, Calvin Borel was the tenth leading rider in North America in 2009. On February 16, 2005 at Oaklawn Park, Calvin Borel became the 45th jockey ever to win 4,000 races.
In 2007 Borel was invited to dinner at the White House with the Queen Elizabeth II of England and President George Bush. He has also appeared on The Jay Leno Show, Today, and The Tonight Show with David Letterman.
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