After working Mine That Bird June 1 at Churchill Downs, jockey Calvin Borel "guaranteed" that the gelded son of Birdstone would win the June 6 Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Believe it or not, Borel is now even more confident.
"I don’t regret saying that, no sir, not at all," Borel said at a press briefing June 4 at Belmont Park, where two days later he will try to become the first jockey to win the three Triple Crown races on different horses. "I’m confident 110% that he’ll win. I’m going to ride him with so much confidence."
Borel rode Mine That Bird to win the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), and two weeks later was aboard the filly Rachel Alexandra when she won the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). When Rachel Alexandra’s connections opted to pass the Belmont, Borel got the mount back on Mine That Bird.
"I made a commitment to ride the filly in all her races her 3-year-old season, but that was way before Mine That Bird had come along," Borel said. "I felt she was the best horse in the country, but of course I never dreamed they would run her against the boys. When they did, I had to keep my word."
Trainer Chip Woolley wanted Borel back on the horse and patiently waited to see what decision Jess Jackson, who with partner Harold McCormick purchased Rachel Alexandra after her win in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), would do in regard to the Belmont.
So why does Borel fit Mine That Bird so well?
"His patience and his no fear attitude," Woolley said.
And Woolley said he certainly doesn’t mind that Borel made a statement guaranteeing victory.
"If he feels that strongly…I speak my mind; I expect him to speak his. I’ve got no problem with that."
Woolley admits he is surprised to be in the position he finds himself in with the gelding owned by Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach.
"I never dreamed of this," Woolley said. "It never crossed my mind."
Woolley vanned Mine That Bird to Louisville, Ky., from New Mexico for his start in the Derby and he won at odds of 50-1. He then vanned him to Pimlico where he validated his Derby run with a strong second in the Preakness.
"He’s handled everything we’ve asked of him with the greatest professionalism," Woolley said.
Confidence is running high in the Mine That Bird camp.