Veteran jockey Calvin Borel has a reputation of being the best rider in the business when it comes to navigating the dirt track at Churchill Downs. Borel has won the Kentucky Derby three times most notably aboard Super Saver in 2010 when he gave the horse a spectacular ride on a rain soaked, sloppy track. Borel will have a chance for a fourth Derby win this year and he’ll be aboard Arkansas Derby runner up Ride on Curlin.
Borel has been aboard for five of the colt’s nine starts and trainer Billy Gowan knows that he’s one of the best at Churchill Downs:
“The only two times he’s won, Calvin rode him. He’s won three Derbies. He’s probably won more races for me than any jock ever. So I’m going to take my chances. If he rides the race like Calvin Borel is supposed to ride — on the rail — I think I’ve got a heck of a shot.”
There are a lot of similarities in running style between Ride on Curlin and Super Saver and Gowan thinks that if Borel can give his horse a ride similar to his 2010 Kentucky Derby effort that would be ideal. Borel’s other two Derby victories–Street Sense in 2007 and Mine That Bird in 2009–came on the rail from the back of the pack to win. That probably isn’t the best strategy for Ride on Curlin though he could be at his best coming from mid pack. Gowan thinks that with a perfect ride his horse has a chance to win:
“One of these days, I think I’m going to get the perfect trip. And maybe it will be the first Saturday in May.”
Kent Desormeaux was on board Ride on Curlin in the Rebel Stakes, finishing third. Gowan wasn’t pleased with that effort and opted to switch to two time Arkansas Derby winner Jon Court for that race. Court turned in a better performance, finishing second behind longshot winner Danza.
The Kentucky Derby will take place May 4th at Louisville, Kentucky’s Churchill Downs race track. All of the major prep races for the event have been won and the field will start to take shape over the next few days.