Confidence fueling jockey Borel’s work on the inside
AP Racing Writer
Calvin Borel makes his living riding the rail. It’s the shortest way around a racetrack, yet few jockeys are as comfortable down there as he is.
Of course, the rail doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a horse good enough underneath you. Borel certainly did in the Kentucky Derby, guiding Super Saver on the short path in the slop to a 2 1/2-length victory, his third in four years.
“He doesn’t run in the one hole, he runs in the half-hole,” Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. “He could paint the fence while he’s going.”
Borel isn’t expected to deviate from his famed style when he rides Super Saver in the Preakness on Saturday, aiming for a victory that would set up a Triple Crown attempt.
“He has the talent to do it,” Borel said, referring to a Triple Crown sweep. “It’s hard to say you’re going to win it, but he’s peaking at the right time.”
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has been burned by “Bo-rail” before. He thought he had his fourth Derby victory in the bag last year, but Borel came zooming up the rail – a path Baffert calls the Borel Trail – on Mine That Bird to overtake front-running Pioneer of the Nile.
“He knows if he gets on top of the rail, it’s a big advantage,” Baffert said. “Lots of guys try it, but they can’t do it. He’s got it mastered. He can get a horse to relax. He’s got really great hands.”
Rachel Alexandra took Borel to the Preakness winner’s circle last year, when he switched off Mine That Bird to ride the filly, who started from the No. 13 post. This time, Borel is sticking with the horse that got him to Pimlico for the 1 3-16-mile race.
“I’ve got total confidence he’ll be able to handle Pimlico,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Super Saver.
Borel is keeping tabs on Super Saver at Churchill Downs, where the colt is training for the Preakness and is scheduled to arrive at Pimlico on Wednesday, three days before the race.
Super Saver had a light schedule before the Derby, with just two races in which he finished third and second. His freshness could work in his favor during the grueling five-week Triple Crown campaign.
“God willing, he’s a colt that will take us all the way because he’s a nice horse,” Borel said.
Only 11 horses have swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, with Affirmed the last to do so in 1978. There have been 11 Triple tries since, most recently by Big Brown in 2008. He won the first two legs, then finished last in the Belmont.
The 135th Preakness will include Paddy O’Prado and Dublin, the third- and seventh-place finishers in the Derby, and new shooters Derby Trial runner-up Aikenite (trained by Pletcher), First Dude, Florida Derby runner-up Pleasant Prince, Derby Trial winner Hurricane Ike, Schoolyard Dreams, Caracortado and A Little Warm, runner-up in the Louisiana Derby.