Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Return of Calvin Borel

Does the name of Calvin Borel sound familiar to you?

He's a jockey from Louisiana, and, even if you only pay attention to horse racing in the five weeks of the Triple Crown, Borel's name should sound familiar to you. He's a Hall of Famer, a three–time winner of the Kentucky Derby; in 2009, he won the Preakness as well and became the first jockey to win the first two races of the Triple Crown on different horses.

In fact, when he won the Preakness (exactly five years ago this Friday), Borel rode a filly, Rachel Alexandra. It wasn't the first time that a filly won the Preakness, but it was the first time in 85 years.

It is important to know that because Borel apparently will be trying to duplicate horse racing history in this Saturday's running of the Preakness. It was reported yesterday that Borel will be riding another filly, Ria Antonia.

The immediate plans for the filly, who recently changed owners, were uncertain initially, but Jennie Rees of USA Today reports that "[a]n impressive workout Sunday under Calvin Borel seemed to seal the deal."

Meanwhile, Kentucky Derby winner and presumptive Preakness favorite California Chrome arrived in Baltimore Monday. He seemed to enjoy the attention he received, writes Childs Walker in the Baltimore Sun.

He's getting plenty of attention from other owners who would like to puncture the Triple Crown balloon. As I observed following the Kentucky Derby, the comparatively leisurely pace of the Kentucky Derby might encourage the owners of speed horses to challenge California Chrome in Baltimore.

Is that what is happening? Is Ria Antonia a speed horse who might be capable of challenging California Chrome?

Her new trainer isn't saying, only that he see the Preakness as being California Chrome vs. the field. If he is able to run the race his way, he will win. But if he is thrown off by something or someone, all bets are off.

Speaking of bets, according to the odds posted yesterday, the pending odds against Ria Antonia are 32–1. If the odds are unchanged Saturday afternoon, and Borel rides Ria Antonia to victory, it will be a big story — but it won't be the biggest story in Borel's career. Two weeks before he rode Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Preakness, he rode Mine That Bird, a 50–to–1 shot, to a huge upset win in the Kentucky Derby.

Borel rode Ride On Curlin in this year's Kentucky Derby on May 3, finishing seventh. Ride On Curlin will be in the Preakness field this Saturday, but Joel Rosario, who rode General A Rod to an 11th–place finish at Churchill Downs, will replace Borel.

(General A Rod has been confirmed for the race, too. Javier Castellano, who rode the winner in the 2006 Preakness, will be on board.)

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