SARATOGA SPRINGS — Best known for having won three Kentucky Derbies in a span of four years and for being the regular rider for Rachel Alexandra, 46-year-old jockey Calvin Borel was inducted to the National Racing Hall of Fame today.
Among those he thanked in a heartfelt acceptance speech that was supported by his wife’s comments and recitation of a long list of were owners and trainers who had given Borel a chance over the years,
as well as his late parents and long-time agent, Jerry Hissam, who retired in April due to illness but made the trip to Saratoga Springs from Hot Springs, Ark.
Also in attendance was Borel’s brother, Cecil, a trainer who gave him some of the first mounts of a career that has passed 5,000 victories and purse winnings of over $120 million.
“I just wish my mom and dad could be here to see what I accomplished in my life,” Calvin Borel said. “They’re smiling down on me. I was very, very, very blessed to have a mom and dad who let me do what I wanted to do.”
Borel was presented by Hall of Fame trainer Carl Nafzger, who teamed with Borel to win the 2007 Derby and Travers at Saratoga with Street Sense.
Borel also won the Derby on 50-1 long shot Mine That Bird in 2009 and on Super Saver in 2010.
In 2009, Rachel Alexandra defeated males in the Preakness at Pimlico, Haskell at Monmouth Park and Woodward at Saratoga Race Course.
“Calvin and I met in the fall of 1996, and neither of us could ever imagine this day that we’re having,” Nafzger told the crowd. “The horse and God have taken Calvin Borel and me from the swamps of Louisiana and the plains of Texas to the highest honor that you can receive in thoroughbred racing.”
Besides Borel, the horses Housebuster, Invasor, Lure, McDynamo and Tuscalee were inducted, and August Belmont II and Paul Mellon were recognized in a special Pillars of the Turf category that the Hall of Fame began this year.