There is nothing like an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) followed by a strong workout a week later to build confidence in a journeyman jockey.
And when Calvin Borel made his first appearance in Baltimore Friday, he expressed confidence in the chances of Derby Street Sense in Saturday’s Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the second leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
“He’s an amazing horse,” Borel said. “When I worked him before the Derby, I didn’t think he could get any better. After the Derby, he worked super good. The horse is moving forward. I don’t know how good he is. I am very confident…If he don’t fall, there’s no way he will get beat. He has so many gears.”
Analyzing the competition, Borel said some of Saturday’s competition have the ability to give his horse a run for the money.
“Hard Spun will have a little speed and Lukas’s horse (Flying First Class) is going to have speed. Curlin ran a big race (third in the Derby) so I’ve got to keep my eye on him. I can’t leave him out because I think he is a nice horse. But he hasn’t stepped up to the plate like my colt did. You know, experience helps a lot. After the Derby, I expect Curlin to improve a little bit. Hard Spun run very hard last time…he might run a better race or he might tail off a little bit.”
Borel said the configuration of the Pimlico track, with tighter turns than those at Churchill Downs, and the 1 3/16-mile distance of the Preakness should post no problems for him or Street Sense. Borel, who has never ridden at Pimlico before, will get a feel for the track by riding Friday and in earlier races on the Preakness card.
“It’s the same thing; just turn left. It’s a racetrack. There’s nothing different but the sharp turns. It’s like a bull ring.”
The Derby-winning jockey said one of the most memorable of his post-Derby appearances was arriving at a State Dinner at the White House in which Queen Elizabeth II was in attendance.
“Getting into the limo, and it was black, and when I walked out and the paparazzi was outside, it scared the you-know-what out of me. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Borel said President Bush hugged him and said “this is the man of the hour” before introducing the jockey to the Queen. “It was awesome. It was unbelievable.”
Borel said he is trying to balance his time between work, public appearances, and family.
“I’m loving it, trying to have fun, trying to enjoy myself with my family. It got a little hectic for a while, but we got through it.”