Jockey Calvin Borel is not assured of having a mount in the June 6 Belmont Stakes (Grade I), but the leadup to the third jewel of the Triple Crown will have his fingerprints all over it.
Borel’s agent, Jerry Hissam, has a lot more on his plate these days than just lining up mounts for the popular rider.
“He is going to New York on Tuesday June 2 to tape the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ that will air June 5,” Hissam said. “CNN is shooting something this week for Belmont Day. NYRA has something on June 2 at Madison Square Garden and after the Belmont, ’60 Minutes’ is coming to shoot a 10- to 12-minute segment that is supposed to air in September.”
All this action was made possible by Borel’s victories aboard Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) and Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) and Preakness Stakes (Grade I).
Borel has first call on Rachel Alexandra, but her connections have not commited to run in the Belmont. Trainer Chip Woolley of Mine That Bird is hoping to get Borel back if the filly doesn’t run and is expected to name a rider Monday.
Borel could become the first jockey to sweep the Triple Crown riding different horses, but to Hissam, his rider already has achieved a Triple Crown.
“He won the Oaks, Derby and Preakness,” Hissam said. “If he wins the Belmont, what would that be?”
Let’s call it a “Calvin Slam.”
Only one other rider has won the same three races in the same year as Borel and that was Don Brumfield in 1966. Brumfield rode Native Street to victory in the Oaks and then won the Derby and Preakness aboard Kauai King before finishing fourth aboard the Derby winner in the Belmont Stakes.
FANS HAVE CHANCE TO HEAR CALVIN WITH JILL BYRNE SATURDAY’S “GET IN THE GAME” SEMINAR – Popular Kentucky Derby and Preakness-winning jockey Calvin Borel will be Racing Analyst Jill Byrne’s special guest during Saturday’s free “Get in the Game” Handicapping Seminar at Churchill Downs.
The new weekly series takes place every Saturday in the paddock area at noon (EDT) and features informative and in-depth analysis of races and handicapping topics. Among Borel’s scheduled mounts on Saturday is a ride aboard veteran Brass Hat in the $100,000-added Louisville Handicap (GIII).
DERBY WINNER MINE THAT BIRD COULD WORK MONDAY – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Kentucky Derby Mine That Bird galloped two miles before the renovation break under exercise rider Charlie Figueroa.
Trainer Chip Woolley said Mine That Bird may work Monday, “something light, like three-eighths. If he works, I’ll probably wait until after the break.”
Also scheduled to work Monday is Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, who galloped early Friday morning with Dominic Terry up.
Woolley plans to give Mine That Bird his serious Belmont tune-up the following Monday, June 1, and send the gelding to New York by plane on Wednesday, June 3.
Originally sold as a yearling for $9,500, Mine That Bird was purchased by his current connections for $400,000 last fall. His Derby victory and runner-up showing in the Preakness have attracted more interest.
“We have had a couple of inquiries,” Woolley said.
In recent Kentucky Derby lore, the highest price paid for a gelding was $750,000 by J.E. Jumonville Sr. for Real Dare in 1982. A sensation in his home state of Louisiana, Real Dare finished last in the Derby won by Gato Del Sol.
SUNDAY FEATURE HAS STAKES QUALITY FEEL – The Memorial Day Weekend offers two Grade III stakes in the Louisville Handicap on Saturday and Monday’s Winning Colors. Sunday’s feature, an allowance optional claiming race at 1 1/16th miles on the main track, offers up a salty field that includes five stakes winners.
With the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (Grade I) looming in three weeks, Sunday’s test could serve as a springboard to that event.
“It’s a prep for something,” said Gary Thomas, trainer of Golden Yank. “I don’t know about the Foster; maybe the Cornhusker (on June 27 at Prairie Meadows).”
Golden Yank has been idle since finishing ninth in the March 14 Mervyn Muniz Jr. Memorial (GII) on turf at Fair Grounds.
“He got beat up and knocked around at New Orleans and we gave him some time off,” Thomas said. “Same thing happened when he ran here last year in the Jefferson Cup and in the million dollar race (the Delta Jackpot) at Delta (Downs) when he got hit from both sides.”
Golden Yank’s most recent start on dirt came in a runner-up finish in Oaklawn Park’s Essex Handicap. He lost to Prom Shoes, who also shows up in Sunday’s race.
“We are just looking for a spot to run,” trainer William “Jinks” Fires said of Prom Shoes. “We’ll see how he comes out of it (before making a decision on the Foster).”
Prom Shoes ran eighth in the Grade III Alysheba here on May 1 and Fires is looking for a better effort Sunday.
“He didn’t run too good the last time,” Fires said. “There was no pace in the race and he needs pace to run at. I haven’t looked at the race yet, but I hope to see some pace in there Sunday.
BARN TALK – Robby Albarado moved one victory closer to the 4,000-win plateau on Thursday with a score on Handlethetruth in the fifth race. Albarado had 3,996 wins heading into Friday’s 11-race program. He was scheduled for five mounts on Friday in his bid to become the 56th North American rider to reach 4,000 wins.
Ken McPeek, with 999 career victories, will have two chances this afternoon to get No. 1,000. He saddles Chapel Affair in the fifth and Our Dahlia in the 10th.
Bill Connelly, who has 998 career victories, saddles Mr. Brutus in the opener and Hungry Tigress in the 10th. Connelly also has a starter tonight at Indiana Downs, Patchen Prince in the sixth.
WORK TAB – Trainer Ian Wilkes had a couple of hopefuls for the Stephen Foster Super Saturday card turn in identical five furlong works of 1:02.40 over “fast” footing. Miss Isella, winner of two consecutive Grade II events under the Twin Spires – last November’s Falls City Handicap and the May 1 Louisville – prepped for the $200,000 Fleur De Lis (Grade II) and Warrior’s Reward, a Kentucky Oaks Day allowance winner, tuned up for the $100,000-added Northern Dancer (Grade III),