Friday, August 9, 2013
Borel stars at Hall of Fame
By Claire Novak Bloodhorse
Jockey Calvin Borel was the star of the show Aug. 9 at the Fasig-Tipton Humphrey S. Finney Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Leading seven other inductees into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, he was welcomed by a rousing ovation from a standing-room only crowd.
Invasor -- the 2006 Horse of the Year -- Lure, Housebuster, steeplechasers Tuscalee and McDynamo, and "Pillars of the Turf" August Belmont II and Paul Mellon joined Borel in the Hall of Fame class of 2013.
Borel, 46, is one of only nine jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby at least three times, a feat he accomplished in the remarkable span of four years (2007-10).
"I just want to thank everybody for being here and inducting me into the Hall of Fame," Borel said. "I just wish my mom and dad were here to see what I accomplished in my life. I know they're looking down on me, but if they could only see. I was very blessed to have a good mom and dad that let me do what I wanted to do I wanted to ride so bad. I had a good, good brother &[Cecil Borel], who had been there, done it, and is a good guy. I think it made who I am today no matter what.
"I had to work very hard but it paid off big-time. I have a lot of good friends which I can turn to now, a lot of people back home. All the guys I rode for, I can't say all their names, there's no way. I just thank God for keeping me where I am.
"I have no idea how long I'm going to ride because I love the game so much. I love to get up in the morning and go to work and see my friends. I'll just go from there and enjoy it."
Borel has been aboard three Kentucky Derby winners.
Borel's wife, Lisa, shared a few prepared remarks, thanking many individuals instrumental in Borel's career, from those who supported his early days on the bush tracks of Louisiana to the many connections of his champion winners, especially 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra.
Borel also credited longtime agent Jerry Hissam, who recently retired, and he went on to thank the owners, trainers, and behind-the-scenes workers who helped him on the way to more than 5,000 wins and earnings of more than $122 million.
"We worked very hard, and as long as I've been riding for, 38 years or whatever, I've never seen an agent and a jock stay together that long and get along," Borel said. "We never had two bad words. I showed up, he showed up, I did my job, he did his and if we lost a horse, we always tried to find another one to beat him."
Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger introduced Borel, who rode Street Sense to victory for Nafzger in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
"The horse and God have taken Calvin Borel and me from the swamps of Louisiana and the plains of Texas to the highest honor you can receive in Thoroughbred racing," the trainer said. He called Borel a person who was "above all a friend," whose name stood for integrity and horsemanship.
Borel, whose other Derby victories came in 2009 on Mine That Bird and 2010 aboard Super Saver , was the 97th jockey to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is one of two riders with more than 1,000 wins at Churchill Downs. Borel also won the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award in 2010 and has earned riding titles at Churchill Downs, Oaklawn Park, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, and Delta Downs. He is also a member of the Arkansas and Kentucky sports halls of fame, as well as the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame.
Rick Nichols, vice president and general manager of Sheikh Hamdan's Shadwell Farm, accepted the plaque for Invasor, who defined himself as an elite racehorse on three continents, at seven tracks, and in some of the world's most prestigious races. The 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic and 2007 Dubai World Cup winner won 11 of his 12 outings, with nine of his 11 victories coming in Grade/Group I1 events.
"There were many great people by Invasor's side throughout his journey," Nichols said. "First and foremost was Sheikh Hamdan. Invasor gave him such thrills because it was he who discovered this horse by watching videos of him winning the Uruguayan Triple Crown.
"In Invasor's case, the stars aligned and many great horsemen came together to give a great racehorse an opportunity to reach his full potential."
Dell Hancock and Walker Hancock represented Claiborne Farm while accepting the honors for two-time Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure. The son of Danzig bred by Claiborne and William Haggin Perry's The Gamely Corp was trained by Shug McGaughey to his 1992-93 victories.
"We're so pleased and proud for Lure to be inducted into the Hall of Fame," Dell Hancock said. "Lure was special from the very beginning at the farm, and he became more and more special -- especially because he became the last really good horse we had with Mr. Perry.
"On behalf of Claiborne Walker and I are really proud and pleased and thankfull to the Hall of Fame to accept this."
Robert Levy, owner of two-time champion sprinter Housebuster, accepted the plaque for the Mt. Livermore runner who was trained as a 2-year-old by Ronald Benshoff before he was transferred to Hall of Fame member Warren A. "Jimmy" Croll Jr. Housebuster won 15 of 22 starts for earnings of $1,229,696.
"Housebuster joins many great horses and leaps over many deserving who have not received this honor," Levy said. "This is the highest honor award in our sport and our entire family deeply appreciates it. Housebuster only competed, as you heard, in stakes races after breaking his maiden from the day he was foaled at Courtland Farm in Kentucky to the time he was retired. He was a champion in all aspects -- ability, personality, and accomplishment."
Sanna Hendriks, trainer of McDynamo, recalled the three-time Eclipse Award winner's spectacular career for owners Michael and Anne Moran. The son of Dynaformer is the all-time leading earner among steeplechasers ($1,354,944) and took five consecutive editions of the Breeders' Cup Grand National from 2003-07. He won his fifth Grand National at age 10, the oldest horse to ever take the event.
"Overall I thought, I don't know how he's going to work out clearly he was far more than just alright," Hendriks said. "When he won, we would just enjoy it. When he lost, we would simply regroup, no blame, no pressure. In my heart, I truly believe McDynamo's story would have been different with different owners. Because of them, McDynamo retired sound and happy at age 10.
"I haven't met a kinder or more confident horse than McDynamo. His nervousness turned into confidence over time his race record speaks for itself, and I am still in awe of his many accomplishments. Truly a horse of a lifetime, McDynamo gave us so many thrills, and he still does."
Marilyn Ketts, daughter of owner Alfred Smith, and Mary Ryan, on behalf of the Aitcheson family, accepted the award for Tuscalee, who was trained by Joe Aitcheson Sr. The 1966 champion steeplechaser won with imposts of as much as 167 pounds and still owns the all-time North American records for victories in a single season (10) and career (37) for steeplechasers.
"This is indeed a pleasure," Ketts said. "I never thought it would ever happen."
"Tuscalee never fell in any of his 89 races, and he never lost a rider," Ryan said. "That right there is a track record."
Edward Bowen, chairman of the Pillars of the Turf committee and the Hall of Fame nominating committee, accepted the plaque for August Belmont II, while John von Stade, chairman of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, accepted on behalf of Paul Mellon.
Trainers Janet Elliott, Jack Van Berg, D. Wayne Lukas, Shug McGaughey, Bill Mott, Jonathan Sheppard, Nafzger, and Nick Zito, and jockeys Jerry Bailey, Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, Manny Ycaza, Bill Boland, Edgar Prado, Jose Santos, Randy Romero, and John Velazquez, were among the present Hall of Fame members and were given the other standing ovation of the day when introduced by Bowen.