Trying to catch Calvin Borel for an interview during his last day of racing at Saratoga was like attempting to pin down a darting dragonfly, and the Cajun jockey looked the part in Bill Farish’s brilliant green and yellow silks as he scurried back to the private courtyard behind the jockeys’ room before the fourth race of the day.
“It has been a good time,” he said breathlessly, wrapping the number five armband around his upper bicep. “I came up here to ride Street Sense and Lady Joanne and I ended up winning a couple races, too.”
Borel’s definition of his first full meet at Saratoga is a bit modest – though he was shut out Aug. 29, he won four graded stakes and finished the meet with a nine wins, six seconds, and nine thirds. The 40-year-old jockey had no trouble getting mounts, either, riding 96 starters over the course of 31 days.
Borel rode Street Sense to victory in the July 29 Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) and the Aug. 25 Travers Stakes (gr. I), and also took the Alabama Stakes (gr. I) with Lady Joanne and rode Grand Couturier to a rail-skimming victory in the Aug. 11 Sword Dancer Stakes (gr. IT).
“I’ve had a really good meet, I’ve been well-paid,” the jockey said with a smile. “Of course, I came here to stay with Street Sense, to work him every week and make sure everything was OK. He’s a good horse, and it makes sense to keep the same rider on him, to be consistent.”
Borel scored his first winner in his first race of the meet, when he rode a horse to victory for trainer Ronny Werner on opening day. The native Texan also spent his first full-time season at the Spa.
“I had a few trainers who know me from Kentucky who brought horses up here, so that was good,” Borel said. “The main thing was to stick with Carl (Nafzger) and Ian (Wilkes)’s horses and have a little vacation.”
Borel said he and his fiancée, Lisa Funk, went to a few horse shows and enjoyed Saratoga polo while in town. Now, he’s ready to kick his travel schedule into higher gear in the interim between Saratoga’s closing week and the Oct. 5 opening of Keeneland.
Borel planned to head back to Kentucky Aug. 29 but will fly to Pennsylvania Sept. 3 to ride Moyer’s Pond in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for trainer Tony Reinstedler and Unbridled Sydney in the Turf Monster Handicap for trainer Ronny Werner. On Sept. 8 he’ll be at Belmont Park to ride Grand Courtier in the Man O’ War Stakes (gr. IT), and on the Sept. 22 he heads to Kentucky Downs for the Kentucky Cup Turf Festival.
Borel said he was thrilled by the reception he earned from the fans at Saratoga.
“They loved me, they just loved me,” he said. “It was unbelievable. I signed the most autographs I’ve ever signed in my life.”
Will he be back? The jockey and his agent, Jerry Hissam, are definitely keeping the idea under consideration.
“I’d love to do it,” Borel said. “We’ll see if we get another big horse…I’d love to ride here again.”