03/30/2016 9:07AM

Three-time Derby winner Borel retires, agent says

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Barbara D. Livingston
Jockey Calvin Borel has won 5,146 races.

Hall of Fame rider Calvin Borel has informed his agent, Larry Melancon, that he has retired, Melancon said on Wednesday. Borel, 49, has been riding at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.

Melancon said Borel told him of his intent to retire Tuesday but did not give a reason for his decision. Melancon said he called Borel again Wednesday morning to verify that he still felt the same way, as Borel had horses lined up to work and mounts for the remainder of the week at Oaklawn.

Borel, who ranks 27th among jockeys in North American racing history with 5,146 victories, entered the Hall of Fame in 2013. He didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday.

Melancon said he has informed trainers to find replacement riders for their horses at Oaklawn. Melancon, a retired rider, began booking mounts for Borel last fall in Kentucky. Jerry Hissam previously handled business for Borel.

Melancon said he has found Borel to be a “hard worker.”

“He’d get off a horse and tell you something about them,” Melancon said. “He’s a horseman.”

Borel on Wednesday did not work one of his top local mounts, the 3-year-old stakes-winning filly Cosmic Evolution. Borel has regularly worked Cosmic Evolution, who breezed right after the track opened in preparation for the Grade 3, $400,000 Fantasy on April 9 at Oaklawn.

Lon Wiggins, who trains Cosmic Evolution, said Borel had been scheduled to work the filly, but the rider’s close friend, Joe Johnson, stepped in for the breeze. Wiggins said he was not informed of the reason Borel was unable to make the work, but later in the morning, he learned that he needed to find replacement riders for horses he had Borel named on this week at Oaklawn.   

“I think Calvin’s probably one of the best that the game’s had around,” said Wiggins, whose father, trainer Hal Wiggins, used Borel aboard his Kentucky Oaks winner, Rachel Alexandra. “He’s a hard worker, a great guy, and a team player. The game won’t be as good without him here.”

Borel won the Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010). He also was the regular rider aboard 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra, winning the Preakness with her the same year he won the Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird. Borel later starred in a movie about Mine That Bird entitled “50 to 1.”

Borel’s record in the Kentucky Derby made him a fan favorite at Churchill Downs, where he won riding titles in 1999, 2006, 2009, and 2010. He also ranks second to Pat Day in career wins at Churchill with 1,189, according to statistics from the track. He has a home in Louisville, Ky., as well as in Florida.

“Along with his three Kentucky Derby victories and his status as one of the most accomplished jockeys in Churchill Downs history, Calvin’s 20 years at our track were as notable for his relationship with our fans as his excellence on the track,” Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack, said in a statement. 

Borel won his first race Jan. 14, 1983, at Delta Downs. One of Borel’s first major wins came in 1991 aboard Free Spirit’s Joy in the Grade 1 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Two years later, Borel struck with 108-1 longshot Rockamundo in the Arkansas Derby.

Borel won 5,146 races from 34,918 career mounts. He won 302 stakes races, with 93 of them graded, and his mounts earned $127 million.  

To read a DRF interview with Borel from 2013, click here.