05/29/2009 12:00AM

Hot pace may help Vicarian

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Justin N. Lane
Calvin Borel, the hottest rider on the grounds, will be aboard Vicarian in the Aristides.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With all the big-name jockeys in to ride at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week, trainer Ian Wilkes was asked about the possibility of employing one of them.

"No thanks," said Wilkes. "I've got some guy named Borel to ride most of my horses."

That's even funnier now than it was then, considering the fame that Calvin Borel has attained in the month that has passed. By winning his second Kentucky Derby aboard Mine That Bird and then capturing the Preakness aboard Rachel Alexandra - not to mention a recent 14-for-25 streak at the Churchill spring meet - Borel is arguably the hottest jockey on the planet.

Being ahead of that curve has helped Wilkes land Borel for the Saturday co-feature at Churchill, the Grade 3, $100,000 Aristides. The two will team with Vicarian, just as they did for a May 10 allowance at Churchill, a race in which Vicarian overcame traffic trouble to finish second to Bold Start when making his first start in nearly six months.

Vicarian is one of 11 older horses entered in a speed-laden, six-furlong Aristides. Cassoulet, Garifine, Semaphore Man, and Knights Cross are among the fleet steeds who figure to make or press rapid early fractions, perhaps setting the table for a late runner such as Vicarian.

"We turned him out over the winter," said Wilkes. "He's a gelding, and he ran pretty hard last year. I really think he came back a lot better. He's bigger, stronger. I believe we're going to be rewarded this year for giving him that little break."

Vicarian, an earner of $243,369, is just one of a multitude of viable options in a wide-open race.

Semaphore Man, the leading earner in the group with more than $530,000, comes off a gritty score in the Grade 3 Count Fleet at Oaklawn Park. Premium Wine and Bold Start are both stakes-seasoned 5-year-olds with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures dotting their past performances, while Cassoulet, Sok Sok, Success Success, and Grand Sensation also are worthy of close looks.

The Aristides, named for the first winner of the Derby, in 1875, goes as the 10th of 11 races while sharing the Saturday spotlight with the Dogwood Stakes (race 8). First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.