01/28/2005 12:00AM

Borel approaching his 4,000th win

Grade 2 winner My Trusty Cat is back in training after being freshened.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - It is appropriate that Calvin Borel is approaching the 4,000th win of his career at Oaklawn. Back in Hot Springs after a two-year hiatus, Borel has scored some of his biggest wins here, including an upset in the 1993 Arkansas Derby with $218 winner Rockamundo.

Borel has also captured two runnings of the Grade 1 Apple Blossom, with Halo America in 1997 and Gourmet Girl in 2001, and won the Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap with K One King in 2000. He registered the 3,000th win of his career here in 1999.

But Borel's success has not been limited to Oaklawn, where he won in riding titles in 1995 and 2001. Borel has also won titles at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Ellis Park, Louisiana Downs, Evangeline Downs, and Delta Downs.

Borel's 199 career stakes wins also include the Grade 1 Super Derby with Free Spirit's Joy in 1991 and the Grade 2 Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds with Belle of Perintown in 2003.

Entering Friday's Oaklawn program, Borel had won 3,992 races from 26,808 mounts, and had purse earnings of $72,195,283. Borel and Jerry Hissam, his agent of 15 years, decided to return to Oaklawn this meet, which opened Jan. 21, after spending the last two winters at Fair Grounds, which began its meet on Thanksgiving.

"I've been going, for about three years, real, real hard," said Borel, 38. "We'd be at Churchill then go straight to Fair Grounds and run the next day. We needed a little break this year. We took like a month and a half off."

Borel, who won the first race of the meet here, is a native of Louisiana. His father, Clovis Borel, trained Quarter Horses, and his brother, Cecil Borel, rode for about eight years before becoming a trainer. "I started riding when I was like eight years old, at the bush tracks," Borel said.

Borel registered his first recognized career win at Delta Downs on Jan. 14, 1983. He said his brother's shift to training benefited his own career. "I was real fortunate to have somebody like him to ride for," Borel said. "When he started training, we had 40 to 50 horses at Delta Downs and Evangeline. That helps a lot."

Borel still rides for his brother, who is stabled at Oaklawn. Following this meet, Borel will return to Kentucky.

My Trusty Cat back in training

My Trusty Cat, who won the Grade 2 Honorable Miss last summer at Saratoga and was second by a head in the Grade 1 Ballerina, has rejoined trainer David Vance's stable.

"She was off 60 days," he said. "We may run her once before she goes back to Kentucky."

Vance said the first major objective for My Trusty Cat, now 5, is the Grade 3, $200,000 Vinery Madison at Keeneland on April 13. My Trusty Cat is a winner of $633,468 for her owner, Carl Pollard.

La Reason, winner of last year's Grade 2 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, has also resumed training after a freshening, Vance said. Her first goal is the $175,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup on March 12.

La Reason is a winner of $432,925 and is owned by K and K Racing Stable. Her half-sister, Reason to Talk, has been retired, Vance said. The 6-year-old Reason to Talk was a stakes winner of $308,692, and is scheduled to be bred to Tale of the Cat.

Red Cell, who was stakes-placed last year, has also been retired, Vance said. She is scheduled to be bred to Pleasantly Perfect.

A Pippin prep

With almost all of the seven fillies and mares in the featured eighth race Sunday havng won at least one stakes in their careers, the one-mile allowance is bound to produce starters for the $50,000 Pippin at Oaklawn on Feb. 20. The purse for the Sunday feature is $40,000.

Catboat, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington Breeders' Cup Oaks in August, is one of the top choices. She is returning from a winter freshening for trainer Bernie Flint. Her rivals include Salzurita, a winner last meet at Oaklawn, and Casual Attitude, who has won two stakes in her last three starts for trainer Steve Hobby. The field also includes the stakes-winning entry of 10-year-old Due to Win and Baileys Affair.

* Michael Gill, the leading owner in North America the past two years, claimed six horses over the three-day opening weekend here. In all, 21 horses were claimed between Jan. 21-23. Gill spent $149,500, with his highest purchase being Big Talkin Man, who he claimed for $50,000.

* Johnny Juarez, a retired jockey who was a resident of Hot Springs, died last weekend. He was 85.