HOT SPRINGS – Jockey Calvin Borel joined an elite group of just 25 riders when he won the 5,000th race of his career Thursday at Oaklawn.
Calvin, who returned in late February from a broken wrist, rode Horseplay LLC's Hezunusal to victory in the sixth race. It was his first victory since December when he rode a winner at Fair Grounds to reach 4,999 wins.
Borel, who was announced as a finalist for the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame last Friday, also reached his 3,000-win and 4,000-win milestones at Oaklawn.
"When I started, I didn't even dream of riding 5,000 races, let alone winning 5,000," said Borel. "I would like to dedicate this race to my agent (Jerry Hissam). He's done a great job. We had three Kentucky Derby wins and Rachel Alexandra. I want to thank all the trainers and fans. I think they saw I always tried my best and appreciated it. I'm really happy I got this at Oaklawn. It's one of my favorite tracks."
"I've been blessed to work for such a gentleman these 22 years," said Hissam, who has been recovering from illness at home. "There's no better person. This is just fantastic."
Every person at Oaklawn Thursday received a commemorative trading card honoring Borel's historic achievement courtesy of the City of Hot Springs.
Borel, a 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, was Oaklawn's leading rider in 1995 and 2005. He is probably best known for winning three Kentucky Derbys within four years and as the regular rider of 2009 Fantasy Stakes winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. His first Kentucky Derby victory came aboard Street Sense in 2007 and then he won the race in 2009 aboard Mine That Bird and 2010 aboard Super Saver, the Arkansas Derby runner-up.
Borel was born November 7, 1966, in St. Martin Parish, La., and grew up in Louisiana Cajun country and started riding at bush tracks as a child. He reached the highest echelons of racing with a fearless and aggressive riding style - earning the nickname "Bo-rail" for his courage taking horses through tight spots along the inside. He took some time off in late 2012 to portray himself in the "Mine That Bird" movie being filmed at Churchill Downs.
Borel's biggest wins at Oaklawn are:
• 1993 Arkansas Derby with Rockamundo
• 1995 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap with Hot Jaws
• 2000 Oaklawn Handicap with K One King
• 1997 Apple Blossom Handicap with Halo America
• 2001 Apple Blossom Handicap with Gourmet Girl
• 2009 Fantasy Stakes with Rachel Alexandra
His Triple Crown wins:
• 2007 Kentucky Derby - Street Sense
• 2009 Kentucky Derby - Mine That Bird
• 2009 Preakness Stakes - Rachel Alexandra
• 2010 Kentucky Derby - Super Saver
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