Our network

Jockey champion, pitching ace among hall of fame inductees | People

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Jockey champion, pitching ace among hall of fame inductees
Jockey champion, pitching ace among hall of fame inductees

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Two-time Oaklawn Park leading rider Calvin Borel, winner of three out of the last four Kentucky Derbys, will be recognized both locally and abroad for his riding accomplishments in the coming days.

Friday night Borel joins Philadelphia Phillies pitching ace Cliff Lee, of Benton, Ark., and nine others as 2011 inductees into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Borel will take part in a ceremony in Little Rock.

Monday, Borel leaves for the Middle East where he will represent the United States in the Meydan Masters jockey competition February 17-18 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Borel, who has been riding at Oaklawn since the early 90s, earned his first riding title at the Hot Springs track in 1995, ending Hall of Famer Pat Day’s streak of 12 consecutive titles in the process. His second title came in 2001. More recently, Oaklawn has been a stepping stone for two of Borel’s best mounts. He won the 2009 Martha Washington and Fantasy Stakes (G2) with Rachel Alexandra en route to her Horse of the Year title, and last year he finished second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) aboard Super Saver before capturing his third Kentucky Derby (G1).

Hob-knobbing with Hall of Famers and celebrities is nothing new for Borel. After his breakthrough win in the 2007 Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense, he was whisked away to a state dinner at the White House with an invitation from President George W. Bush and Queen Elizabeth II, who had witnessed the race. Among the athletes at that dinner was NFL star quarterback Payton Manning. With the chance to button-hole Lee, Borel's fellow horsemen have been joking with him about selling these stars on the excitement of horse racing.

"A guy from Benton would seem to be a great guy to get into racing at Oaklawn," said Borel referring to Lee, who signed a $120-million, five-year contract to return to the Phillies in December after spurning similar offers from teams like the New York Yankees. "A friend of mine was joking we need guys like that to get involved."

Borel’s biggest win at Oaklawn came in 1993 when he guided Rockamundo to an upset victory in the 1993 Arkansas Derby. He joins Day and Larry Snyder as the only three jockeys selected for the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.

While in Dubai, Borel will ride against the best jockeys in the world, including Ryan Moore of Great Britain, Hiroyuki Uchida of Japan, Johnny Murtagh of Ireland and Italian-born Frankie Dettori, who is the main rider for the U.A.E.-based Godolphin stable.

"I'm excited," he said. "I had the chance to go to Japan, but this will be my first trip to Dubai. I was going to go last year, but we didn't know when Rachel Alexandra was going to go back to the races, so we put it off for a year. I'm really looking forward to it."

Dubai Racing Club officials invited 12 riders to the event, with most widely recognized worldwide for memorable rides in 2010. Borel, who is making his first trip to Dubai, was selected based on his Kentucky Derby winning effort.

Borel will return to riding at Oaklawn Monday, Feb. 21, just in time to ride his top 2011 Kentucky Derby prospect Elite Alex in the $250,000 Southwest Stakes (G3).