Picking a Derby Winner: The Calvin Conundrum by Gary Roedemeier

Calvin Borel

Calvin Borel

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by Gary Roedemeier

WHAS11.com

Posted on April 25, 2011 at 11:25 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - How can I pick a Kentucky Derby winner, if I don't know which horse Calvin Borel will ride?
Calvin has won three of the last four Derbys including a couple of mud spattered miracles with Mine That Bird and Super Saver. But so far, Calvin Borel doesn't have a horse.
Borel quietly spent the winter toiling away at Oaklawn Park with modest success. Life has returned to normal for the journeyman jockey who has posed with Governors, visited talk shows and met the Queen.
But this year, Calvin's only brush with a Derby contender came with Elite Alex, a horse who tried the Derby trail in Arkansas but never found the winner's circle and finished ninth in the Arkansas Derby.
Which brings us back to muddy, muddy Churchill Downs on a weekend of never ending rain, just two weeks before the Kentucky Derby. And there is Calvin, doing a favor for trainer Todd Pletcher by working Stay Thirsty.
Stay Thirsty is best known as the workmate of Uncle Mo, who traveled to New York in mid-winter and won the Gotham Stakes. But he was a tiring also ran in the Florida Derby and his Kentucky Derby future is still in doubt.
But there he was at Churchill Downs, working a driving ran with Calvin Borel in his ear for five furlongs in one minute flat. And perhaps Calvin whispered, if you can run in the mud, down here on the rail, with a horse on the outside, maybe, just maybe you can be my Derby horse.
After the work, both jockey and trainer, who won the Derby together last year, were polite but non-committal. It's not certain that Stay Thirsty will even run in the Derby. And perhaps Calvin has more candidates to audition before he's named on a horse. He promises that he'll get a mount in the next two week. So wait until you rush to the betting window.
But after it was all over this morning, Calvin Borel spoke the words that we have come to expect from the man who rides Churchill like it's his home race track. "This track gets better when it rains," said the three time Derby winner. "I love it when it rains here, it tightens it up and get's it good."
It's been a very wet week in Louisville, trainers are just going ahead and working in the mud, because there's not a break expected until Thursday, and if it rains on May 7 that would be three muddy Derbys in a row.
I want to know who Calvin Borel is riding that day.
 

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