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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
BOREL TO RECEIVE SANTA ANITA’S GEORGE WOOLF AWARD SUNDAY
Following his ride on Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in today’s New Orleans Ladies Stakes at the Fair Grounds with a scheduled 3:15 p.m. post time, two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will head West to California where he will receive Santa Anita’s George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in a winner’s circle ceremony following Sunday’s sixth race.
Presented annually by Santa Anita since 1950, Borel will become the 61st recipient of one of racing’s most coveted awards. The Woolf Award honors and recognizes those riders whose careers and personal character earn esteem for the individual rider and the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
Alex Solis, winner of the Woolf Award in 1997, is among several past winners with the ultimate in praise for Borel’s recognition.
“He’s very classy, humble and likable,” Solis said. “I met Calvin 20 years ago and he welcomed me like an old friend. He’s the same today as he was then. That’s what makes him so special. He deserves the award, but then again, so does every rider who was nominated.”
The Woolf Award was created to honor and memorialize Woolf, who was one of the greatest riders of his era and who died soon after a spill on the Club House turn at Santa Anita on Jan. 13, 1946. The Woolf trophy is a replica of the full-size statue of the late jockey which adorns Santa Anita’s Paddock Gardens area.
“Bo-Rail,” as he is affectionately known due to his propensity to hug the inner rail en route to heart-pounding victories, outran four other Woolf finalists: Garrett Gomez, Randall Meier, Gallyn Mitchell and DeShawn Parker.
The regular rider of the superstar filly Rachel Alexandra, Borel stunned the racing world by orchestrating an unforgettable rail-skimming, last-to-first victory aboard New Mexico-based Mine That Bird in the Kentucky Derby. Off at odds of 50-1, Mine That Bird executed the second biggest upset in Derby history and his winning margin of 6 ¾ lengths was the biggest since 1946, when Assault won by eighth lengths.
Mine That Bird gave Borel his second career win in the Derby, as his first came with Street Sense in 2007, in very similar fashion.
Due to his association with both Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, Borel maintained a high profile on racing’s biggest stages throughout 2009.
Following his win in the Derby, Borel became the first jockey in history to take off of a Derby winner to ride another horse in the Preakness Stakes. Opting for Rachel Alexandra, with whom he had won the Kentucky Oaks, Borel defeated Mine That Bird and a field of 12 other males by one length and thus became the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924.
Borel and Rachel Alexandra would go on to again defeat 3-year-old males in the Grade I Haskell Stakes, and males aged 3 and up in the Grade I Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, becoming the only distaffer to ever win the prestigious 75-year-old stakes.
Born Nov. 7, 1966 in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, Borel won his first recognized race in 1976. Like so many top Cajun riders before him, Borel began riding match races in his native Louisiana long before he was old enough to compete at recognized racetracks.
From “matching” at age eight, to winning his first Kentucky Derby at age 40, Borel’s career has been punctuated by hard work and a no-nonsense approach to the sport’s daily rigors. Borel can commonly be found mucking stalls and performing other menial stable chores for his brother, trainer Cecil Borel, at Oaklawn Park’s annual winter/spring meeting.
An iconic figure on the Kentucky-Arkansas-Louisiana circuit, Borel has won riding titles throughout the region and he is held in the highest regard by people at every level in the racing business. From owners and trainers, to officials, media, grooms, hot walkers, pony people and exercise riders, Borel has earned a level of respect and depth of affection seldom seen in what is an ultra-competitive sport.
FINISH LINES: Today’s Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap featuring the return of Zenyatta will be shown live on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Santa Margarita post time is scheduled for 3:40 p.m. . . . Mark and Brian from radio station KLOS, 95.5 FM, will be among a large and enthusiastic group in attendance at Santa Anita Sunday to cheer for first-time starter Who U Foolin, a 3-year-old California-bred Rio Verde gelding owned by the Sundance Racing Stable of Paul Aguirre and Frank Sontag. Aguirre also trains Who U Foolin, who will be ridden by Tyler Baze in the 6 1/2-furlong race. Kudos to Santa Anita Special Event Coordinator Elizabeth Booth for organizing the event . . . Santa Anita will offer its $1 million St. Pat’s Pitch presented by Budweiser next Saturday, March 20. Five lucky fans will have an opportunity to win $1 million by throwing a ringer in a horse shoe pitch. On March 15, 2008, John Placzankis did just that. Beer and hot dogs that day will be just $1 . . . Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic winner Life Is Sweet, prepping for the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 27, worked six furlongs at Hollywood Park Saturday in 1:14, breezing, for John Shirreffs . . . There were three players left in ShowVivor II entering Saturday’s races . . . Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday. Set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night.