11/14/2011 1:51PM

Churchill Downs: Borel planning to ride at Gulfstream in December

Barbara D. Livingston
Calvin Borel rides Motor City to victory in the Oct. 30 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – For years, Calvin Borel has taken it easy in December, riding the occasional weekend while otherwise decompressing from 11 months of hard work.

This year, however, Borel will be taking just a little time off after the Churchill Downs fall meet, which ends Nov. 27, and will ride in south Florida at Gulfstream Park, where the meet opener is Dec. 3, exactly a month earlier than what had been tradition for many years. Borel’s agent, Jerry Hissam, told Churchill officials that Borel will begin riding at Gulfstream on Dec. 15.

Hissam said Borel is changing his usual schedule to ride primarily for longtime client Ian Wilkes, who remains closely affiliated with Carl Nafzger. The first of Borel’s three Kentucky Derby winners, Street Sense (2007), was trained by Nafzger. Wilkes has his main winter base at the Palm Meadows training center just north of Gulfstream.

Wilkes is the trainer of Motor City, a Street Sense gelding aboard whom Borel won the Oct. 30 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill, as well as several other promising 2-year-olds, Hissam said.

“When you get a chance to ride a group of nice horses, you take it,” he said.

Borel, 45, has been a winter fixture since the early 1990s at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., where the 2012 season begins Jan. 13.