03/07/2013 6:35PM

Oaklawn Park: Borel wins 5,000th race as jockey

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Tom Keyser
Hall of Famer John Velazquez became the 29th jockey to reach the 5,000-win milestone.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Calvin Borel became the 26th jockey in North American racing history to win 5,000 races when he guided Hezunusal to a four-length victory in Thursday’s sixth race at Oaklawn Park.

Borel, 47, is a three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby who last month was named one of 10 finalists on the 2013 ballot for the Hall of Fame. He also was the regular rider on 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. Borel regularly winters in Arkansas, and in February 2005 registered the 4,000th win of his career at Oaklawn.

“I [never] dreamed of riding 5,000 races, much less winning 5,000 races,” Borel said Thursday. “We’ve won three Kentucky Derbies, a Preakness, did everything we wanted to accomplish. I wish my agent was here with me. I want to dedicate this race to Jerry Hissam.”

Hissam, who has been Borel’s agent for more than 20 years, has been in an out of the hospital the past month, fighting an infection in his pancreas. He recently returned home to Hot Springs after being hospitalized in Dallas. In his absence, Doc Danner has been booking mounts for Borel.

Hezunusal ($11.20) broke with the leaders from post 12 in the $15,000 maiden claiming sprint for Arkansas-breds and after dueling down the backside moved to the lead on the turn. The horse, a bald-faced runner making the second start of his career, was six lengths clear in the stretch. Borel was aboard for Horseplay LLC and trainer David Whited, a retired jockey who won 3,795 races as a rider.

Borel was surrounded by his fellow jockeys and others in the a winner’s circle for a presentation of a life-size trading card in his honor. Following the race, ontrack patrons were given commemorative trading cards provided by the City of Hot Springs. Borel dedicated the occasion to “all the good horses” he’d ridden, as well as supportive owners, trainers and fans.

Borel began riding match races in his native Louisiana at the age of 8. He would go on to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby with Street Sense, the 2009 running with Mine That Bird, and the 2010 edition with Super Saver. He also took the 2009 Kentucky Oaks and Preakness on Rachel Alexandra.

Borel’s first career win came at Delta Downs on Jan. 14, 1983. He lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife, Lisa.

– additional reporting by Marty McGee