Jockey Calvin Borel Saluted Nov. 21-22 with Bobblehead Giveaway, Roast & More

Nov 18, 2009 Darren Rogers

Popular Churchill Downs-based jockey Calvin Borel, who swept this year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby aboard Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, respectively, will be honored at Churchill Downs this weekend (Nov. 21-22) with a bobblehead giveaway, autograph session, roast and his very own drink special.

The first 7,500 fans through admission gates on Saturday (Nov. 21) will receive a free Calvin Borel bobblehead, courtesy of Kroger. The great majority of the Borel bobbleheads will showcase the 43-year-old Cajun in the familiar silks of Derby winner Mine That Bird. However, as a special treat, there will be 75 autographed, limited edition Borel bobbleheads mixed in the allotment that showcase the silks of leading Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra.   

Only 500 Borel bobbleheads with Rachel Alexandra’s silks were made and the remaining 425 will be sold near the PEB mural in the ITW area on the second floor of the clubhouse for $49.95 by Leonard Lusky of Commemorative Derby Promotions. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

The next day on Sunday (Nov. 22), Borel will participate in a free autograph session with fans so they can get their bobbleheads and other memorabilia signed (time to be announced Friday to best accommodate Borel’s Sunday riding commitments).

Borel will also be Jill Byrne’s special guest during Saturday’s “Get in the Game” seminar in the paddock area at 11:50 a.m.

Additionally, a thirst-quenching new drink called the “Borel Breezer” – a mix of Woodford Reserve, cranberry juice and a splash of lemon-line served on ice in a commemorative racing-themed mint julep glass – has been specially created for the weekend. Priced at $7, it will be sold throughout the facility for only $4 immediately after Borel wins a race.

A roast in honor of Borel, complete with praise, outlandish stories and comedic insults from special guests, will take place after the races on Sunday (Nov. 22) in the Triple Crown Room. Tickets for the much-anticipated plated dinner are $100 and proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. A cocktail reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner and ceremonies set to commence at 6:30 p.m. To make reservations to the roast, call Kelly Danner at (502) 638-3825.

Borel, a native of St. Martin Parish, La. who rode his first professional winner at age 16 on Jan. 14, 1983 at Delta Downs, began the week with 4,678 career victories, including 73 graded stakes wins, from 31,576 career mounts. His mounts had earned more than $105.7 million.

His career highlights include:
¨    Regular rider for 2009 Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra, including victories in the 2008 Golden Rod (Gr. II) at age 2 and eight 2009 triumphs at age 3 led by the Fair Grounds Oaks (Gr. II), Fantasy (Gr. II), Kentucky Oaks (Gr. I), Preakness Stakes against 3-year-old males (Gr. I), Mother Goose (Gr. I), Haskell Invitational (Gr. I) against 3-year-old males and Woodward (Gr. I) against older colts and geldings.
¨    Two wins in the Kentucky Derby: Street Sense (2007) and Mine That Bird (2009)
¨    Two wins in the Grade I Apple Blossom: Halo America (1997) and Gourmet Girl (2001)
¨    Additional Grade I victories include the 1991 Super Derby (Free Spirit’s Joy), 2000 Oaklawn Handicap (K One King), 2006 Stephen Foster Handicap (Seek Gold), 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Street Sense), 2007 Sword Dancer (Grand Couturier-GB), 2007 Alabama (Lady Joanne), 2007 Travers (Street Sense).
¨    He has lit up the tote board in three major races: Rockamundo (108-1) in the 1993 Arkansas Derby, Seek Gold (92-1) in the 2006 Stephen Foster and Mine That Bird (50-1) in the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

Born Nov. 7, 1966, Borel – nicknamed “Bo-Rail” for his penchant of hugging the inside rail en route to numerous victories – is second to the legendary Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day in career wins at Churchill Downs with 958 trips to the winner’s circle, and ranks sixth in local stakes wins with 45. He has cracked the top five of the Churchill Downs jockey standings for 23 of the last 28 meetings since the fall of 1995, including titles during the 1999 and 2006 Fall Meets. He has been a runner-up on eight occasions.

Following his victories in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, Borel had celebrity-like status with appearances on The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman to name a few. He and Mine That Bird also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Two years earlier, he was invited to the White House for a white-tie dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth immediately after she witnessed Street Sense’s 2007 Kentucky Derby triumph.

Borel, the younger brother of Churchill Downs-based trainer Cecil Borel, began riding match races at his home state at age 8 before launching his professional career. Known for his tireless work ethic and horsemanship, he currently rides the Kentucky-Arkansas-Louisiana circuit with summer stints at Saratoga. His fiancée is Lisa Funk and his longtime agent is Jerry Hissam.

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