Following his first victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with Street Sense in 2007, jockey Calvin Borel was thrust into the limelight, resulting in a well-deserved bump in national exposure. Included in Borel’s post-Derby media blitz was a visit to the White House for a state dinner in honor of Queen Elizabeth II.
In addition to achieving a lifetime dream, Borel’s first Derby win also helped him secure better horses to ride and earned him a place in racing’s history books. However, with the Carl Nazger-trained colt subsequently finishing second in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and sitting out the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Borel’s ability to capitalize monetarily on the achievement was short-lived.
Now, two years later, the hard-working, personable jock is riding another wave of national media attention as a result of not only winning the Derby with Mine That Bird, but also by taking the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Rachel Alexandra. Indeed, the drama surrounding Borel’s decision to ride the filly and not Mine That Bird (who finished second) in the Preakness took on a life of its own.
And if he wins the Belmont with Mine That Bird, Borel will become the first jockey to sweep the Triple Crown with different horses. The result is an unprecedented demand on the rider’s time for interviews and personal appearances.
Jerry Hissam, Borel’s longtime agent, said June 1 that he and Borel have granted some 150-160 requests for interviews and appearances since the Derby, including an appearance on “Late Night With Jay Leno” and a taping this week of the “David Letterman Show” that will air Friday, June 5.
There have also been a number of book and endorsement proposals that Borel, Hissam, and the rider’s fiancé, Lisa Funk, are considering.
Now, ex-trainer Clint Goodrich has joined the Borel team to help consider the rider’s options and explore those that not only offer the best financial benefit to the jockey but, where possible, can be used to boost the horse industry.
“I am helping them decide which opportunities have the best fit with the horse racing industry and to put horse racing forward in the best possible light,” Goodrich said of the way in which he and the others are looking at the proposals. “It’s not all about money with Calvin. Everyone wants to be compensated, but we are trying to put things together that are best for the big picture. Calvin loves horse racing – it’s his life – and he wants to be involved in things that are not only in the best interests of him and his family but for the sport as well. Calvin is a horseman and a first-class jockey, and he wants horse racing to be put forward in the best possible way. We are all disappointed that horse racing is losing traction, and if we have the ability to help promote and put horse racing back on the front page in some way, that is very important to him.”
Now a successful money manager and financial consultant in Aspen, Colo., Goodrich’s relationship with Borel goes back to when he was an assistant to Churchill-based trainer Carl Nafzger, who conditioned Street Sense. Following a career as a trainer, Goodrich first began representing jockeys in endorsement deals with the “Breathe-Right Nasal Strips” company. Goodrich says the Breathe Right endeavor was short-lived because some elements of the endorsement plan included revenue sharing with other interests within the industry, who never got on board.
Goodrich, who has retained many friends and contacts within horse racing (“You never totally get away from it,” he says) also advised Borel following his first Derby win. While there were some opportunities two years ago, there is more interest this time around.
“When Street Sense won the Derby I was helping Calvin at that time. There were a few things happening, but not a lot. There wasn’t a whole lot of things to follow through on after that. This time around, things seemed to have lit a little bigger fire under Calvin.”
Goodrich could not say when the first endorsement or book deal involving Borel will be announced, noting that what happens this weekend will be pivotal.
“The Belmont results will continue to add more fuel to the interest in Borel," Goodrich said. “We have some that are looking pretty concrete right now. We just have to play it by ear a little bit.”
Goodrich emphasized that his presence within the Borel camp complements Hissam’s role as Borel’s agent.
“Jerry’s area of expertise is getting Calvin on horses and he wants to focus on that as much as possible,” Goodrich said. “All four of us are on the same page of what Calvin’s primary interests are. Jerry swings that stuff over to me, and I sort through them and present to them what the opportunities are. And then we discuss it. Everyone has to be involved here.
Despite the group effort, Goodrich said the buck stops with Borel.
“Ultimately the decision rests with Calvin.”