Sunday, May 17, 2009

Calvin Borel's Triple Crown

Calvin Borel atop Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra, the first female to win the race since 1924.

The last leg of racing's Triple Crown runs in three weeks at New York's Belmont race track. And whether or not he rides Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird -- whose late charge nearly clipped Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness -- Calvin Borel has already won life's race.

“You don’t forget the people who brung you here,” Borel said. “Just cause I’ve gotten on a million-dollar horse doesn’t mean I can’t still get on a $5,000 one.” ...

It has been the rhythm of his life since he began his apprenticeship in Vinton, La., where Cecil had a stable of 60 horses at Delta Downs. Borel remains Boo, short for Boo-Boo, which his parents, Clovis and Ella, thought they had made when their fifth son was born. On the racetrack, he is called Bo-Rail for his insistence on taking the shortest route.

Borel learned the business from the ground up, mucking out stalls, changing horses’ bandages, rubbing their legs, working them out in the mornings and racing them in the afternoons. Fourteen-hour days were the norm, and Cecil was a demanding teacher.

“We didn’t have much book education,” Cecil Borel said. “But we’ve worked very hard. I’m proud that Calvin has earned everything he’s gotten.”

When Borel broke ribs, punctured a lung and had his spleen removed after a spill at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, La., Cecil was among the first to comfort him. When Borel returned to the track, however, Cecil put him on the same horse, a filly named Miss Touchdown, for his first race.

They won.

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