11/07/2006 1:00AM

Borel ecstatic over Street Sense


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Veteran jockey Calvin Borel long has been celebrated for his tireless work ethic and a complete lack of pretension. This is a main reason so many people were ecstatic for him when he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in record fashion aboard Street Sense on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Borel, of course, was happy for himself, to the extent that he was spied shedding a tear or two before Street Sense was led into the winner's circle. As someone who was just a few days from his 40th birthday - which he officially celebrated Tuesday - Borel was aware that his chances to shine on racing's biggest days might be numbered.

"Working hard finally paid off," Borel said between races Tuesday at Churchill. "That was one of the best feelings of my life, winning a Breeders' Cup race, especially the way the colt did it."

The 10-length triumph on Street Sense portends Borel having an eventful early-season schedule in 2007.

Although he said he will vacation during most of December in his native Louisiana, and he intends to ride regularly as usual at the Oaklawn Park meet that begins in January, he will "go wherever, whenever" trainer Carl Nafzger wants him to work or ride Street Sense.

"We've always known he was a good colt," said Borel. "No telling what he might become. For sure, I'll do anything Carl asks me to do."

The obvious hope for Borel and Nafzger is that Street Sense will make it back to Churchill for the 133rd Kentucky Derby next May. Street Sense, bred and owned by retired Chicago businessman Jim Tafel, will be shipped to the Palm Meadows Training Center for the winter, where Nafzger and his longtime assistant, Ian Wilkes, will craft a schedule with the sole agenda of returning to the Derby in peak form.

For Nafzger, who won the 1990 Derby with Unbridled, it has been a while since he was in the national spotlight - his last stars of note were Banshee Breeze in 1998, Vicar in 1999, and Unshaded in 2000. As such, he is tickled by the prospect of having such a great opportunity to return to the Derby.

"You don't get a whole lot of chances like this," he said. "We'll head down to Florida, take it easy with the colt, and see what happens. Our main deal will be to get him to the Blue Grass," in April at Keeneland, "then back here for the Derby. Obviously we've got a long road ahead of us but we're excited about being on it."

Our Summer Storm seizes opportunity

As Our Summer Storm neared the finish line as the winner of the fifth race Tuesday, announcer Luke Kruytbosch gave him this unusual call: "Our Summer Storm had it handed to him on a silver platter."

Indeed, Eastern Point appeared best in the $10,000 claiming race, but apprentice rider David Bourque appeared unable to fully control his mount, who swung extremely wide for the drive, providing a huge opening near the inside for Our Summer Storm, who had forced the early pace but appeared to be fading. Meanwhile, Eastern Point finished third while far out onto the track.

Our Summer Storm, trained by Nick Zito, was taking a sizable class drop when making his first start in nearly 20 months.

Bejarano breaks out of slump

An extended slump for jockey Rafael Bejarano came to a merciful end Tuesday when the 24-year-old Peruvian won the fourth race aboard Skyward Exchange, the 2-1 favorite in a field of nine.

Bejarano had been aboard 63 straight losing mounts before ending the drought. The streak dated back to Oct. 26 at Keeneland and it included 17 runner-up finishes. In fact, in the race prior to ending the streak, Bejarano was second aboard Autobahn Girl, a 4-5 favorite.

Bejarano proceeded to win one more race Tuesday, urging Silver Express to battle back and win a tight photo in the seventh.

Brilliant likely for Commonwealth

Brilliant, the Neil Howard-trained colt who was defeated as the heavy favorite in the Hawthorne Derby in his last appearance, is expected to return to action here Saturday in the weekend feature, the $150,000 Commonwealth Turf.

Churchill racing officials are expecting a medium to large field of

3-year-olds for the Commonwealth, a 1 1/16-mile turf race. Other notable prospects include Outperformance, Sea of Trees, and Storm Treasure.

Saturday also will feature a popular local promotion, the annual Chili Cookoff, as well as festivities celebrating Veteran's Day.