Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel retires

Profile Picture:

TwinSpires Staff

March 30th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Hall of Fame jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel has retired, effectively immediately, his agent, Larry Melancon, confirmed Wednesday morning at Oaklawn.

Borel couldn’t be reached for comment and no reason was given for the retirement. He was named on seven horses over the next three racing days at Oaklawn and was scheduled to work horses Wednesday morning, including Cosmic Evolution for the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) on April 9.

Melancon said Borel, 49, informed him Tuesday afternoon that he was retiring. The two talked again about 40 minutes before the track opened Wednesday morning, Melancon said, and nothing had changed.

“That’s all I know,” said Melancon, who had Borel’s book since late August.

Jerry Hissam of Hot Springs, Borel’s close friend and longtime agent, was also unable to shed any light on the jockey’s abrupt retirement.

“I spoke with him and he said it was time,” Hissam said. “It was just time.”

Hissam had represented Borel for most of the last 25 years after taking the jockey’s book at the 1991 Oaklawn meeting.

According to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Borel retires with 5,146 career victories – 27th-highest total in North American history – and purse earnings of $127,087,376. He rode his first winner in 1983.

Borel won multiple riding titles at Churchill Downs (1999 Fall meet, 2006 Fall, 2009 Fall and 2010 Spring), Delta Downs (1985-87), Ellis Park (1995 and 2011), Louisiana Downs (1991-92 and 1994) and Oaklawn (1995 and 2001), and was leading rider once at Kentucky Downs (2005) and Turfway Park (2000).

A native of St. Martinville, La., Borel earned the nickname “Bo-Rail” for his daring ground-saving rides, a style that carried him to an unprecedented three Kentucky Derby victories in four years (2007, 2009 and 2010).

Borel also won the Preakness aboard 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2013.

Borel enjoyed immense success at Oaklawn, recording his 3,000th, 4,000th and 5,000th career victories in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He became the 26th jockey in North American history to reach 5,000 victories on March 7, 2013.

He began riding regularly at Oaklawn in 1990 and recorded 947 victories in Hot Springs, including 51 in stakes. The Hall of Famer won all five of Oaklawn’s major Racing Festival of the South events at least once, including the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G2) in 1993 aboard 108-1 long shot Rockamundo.

“It was just one amazing God-given ride,” Hissam said.

In what would be his final career mount, Borel finished fourth aboard Mud Light in Saturday's $100,000 Gazebo Stakes at Oaklawn. His final career victory came aboard Thrylos at Oaklawn on March 18.

Upon learning the news of Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel’s retirement on Wednesday morning, Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery issued the following statement:

“Along with his three Kentucky Derby victories and his status as one of the most accomplished jockeys in Churchill Downs history, Calvin’s 20 years at our track were as notable for his relationship with our fans as his excellence on the track. Calvin rose to racing’s Hall of Fame from humble beginnings, and that was reflected in his ongoing relationship with our fans – and especially children. He loved the kids and felt a responsibility to provide a positive image to them and to let them know daily how much he appreciated them. There have been few, if any, individuals quite like Calvin Borel in 142 years of history at Churchill Downs. We thank him for a job well done and wish him the best in the future.”

Borel is one of only nine jockeys to win 5,000 races and at least four Triple Crown classics. The others are: Laffit Pincay Jr. (9,530 wins/4 Triple Crown classics); Bill Shoemaker (8,833/11); Pay Day (8,803/9); Chris McCarron (7,141/6); Angel Cordero Jr. (7,057/6); Eddie Delahoussaye (6,384/5); Jerry Bailey (5,893/5); and Kent Desormeaux (5,725/6). 

Photo of Calvin Borel after recording his 5,000th win courtesy of Coady Photography