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Calvin Borel has emerged as the star of this year’s racing scene and stands a good chance of becoming the only jockey to win the Triple Crown on two different horses.
With Preakness winner Rachel Alexander sitting out the Belmont Stakes, Borel climbs aboard Mine That Bird, who he guided to a surprising Kentucky Derby victory.
Borel and Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley got the news at Churchill Downs, BloodHorse.com reported.
Woolley received a phone call from Rachel Alexander co-owner Jess Jackson. “It showed a lot of class on Mr. Jackson’s part,” he said.
“Whatever Mr. Jackson wanted to do, I was 110 percent behind,” Borel said. “I think Mr. Jackson is all about the horse, not the races. It’s not money -- it’s his horse. I think he has more confidence in his horse and he wants to keep her safe and make sure she’s healthy and everything.
“She ran hard the other day. She struggled a lot, like I said when I come back (from the Preakness). I think he did it for the horse.”
Borel was born 42 years ago in Cajun Country. He dropped out of school after the eighth grade to pursue a riding career starting at southern Louisiana tracks before branching out throughout the South.
He has ridden more than 4,500 winners during a career spanning three decades, capturing 13 titles at seven tracks, including Churchill Downs where he guided Street Sense to victory in the ’07 Derby.
He hopes to add the 141st Belmont to his repertoire. Mine That Bird may face 10 colts, including five that trailed him in the Derby. The gelding, runner-up in the Preakness, most likely will go off as the Belmont favorite.
Five post-time choices during the past two decades triumphed, including three that captured the Preakness after losing the Derby: Risen Star, ’88; Point Given, ’01; and Afleet Alex, ’05.
The only Derby winner the past 20 years to lose the Preakness and win the Belmont was Thunder Gulch in ’95.
The fifth winning favorite missed the first two legs of the Triple Crown because of an injury: A. P. Indy.
Nearly 49 percent of the previous 140 runnings were captured by favorites. The lowest payoff was $2.10 returned by ’43 Triple Crown champ Count Fleet.
During the 21st Century only two betting choices scored. There’s been five horses that returned double-digit payoffs, including the largest in ’02 – Sarava’s $142.50.
Two horses in this field were sired by ’04 Belmont winner Birdstone: Mine That Bird and Summer Bird. Another 3-year-old is sired by ’99 winner Lemon Drop Kid: Charitable Man.
Trainer Nick Zito, who saddled Birdstone and last year’s Belmont winner Da’Tara, may send out three horses on Saturday: Brave Victory, third behind Charitable Man in the Peter Pan; Miner’s Escape, winner of the Fredrico Tesio; and Nowhere to Hide, 17th in the Derby.
If all three go, it will increase the number of Zito’s Belmont starters to 23.
D. Wayne Lukas will saddle two horses that finished off the board in the Preakness: Flying Private, fourth, and Luv Guv. He has trained four winners in 19 tries: Tabasco Cat, ’94; Thunder Gulch, ’95; Editor’s Note, ’96 and Commendable, ’00.
There were less than nine starters only twice in the 21st Century -- ’03 when Empire Maker defeated five others and ’07 when Rags to Riches whipped six males.
Going back three decades, only four horses challenged Secretariat in ’73 and a like number ran against Affirmed in ’78. Both won the Triple Crown.
The smallest fields were two each in 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and 1920. The largest field was 15 in 1983 when Caveat beat Slew o’ Gold.
This Belmont would be the fifth time in nine years that more than 10 horses ran.