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The Talk of the Crown

ELMONT, N.Y. — Calvin Borel's agent has earned his keep the past five weeks fielding all the queries and media requests for his star jockey.

While many have looked to Jerry Hissam for answers, the agent came up with one of the more thought-provoking questions about Borel.

"He won the Oaks, Derby and Preakness," Hissam said. "If he wins the Belmont, what would that be?"

Unprecedented, for starters.

While no horse can sweep the Triple Crown this year, that milestone is still alive for the red-hot Borel thanks to some bold decisions and amazing good fortune.

After winning the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird and the Preakness Stakes aboard superfilly Rachel Alexandra, Borel will try to become the first rider to win all three classics on two horses when he partners again with Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Just as Borel is fully aware of the magnitude of what he is trying to accomplish, he realizes it wouldn't be possible were it not for the patience and loyalty shown by the connections of Mine That Bird.

Trainer Chip Woolley, along with owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach, held off naming a rider for their bay gelding while the owners of Rachel Alexandra — whom Borel was committed to — pondered her Belmont status, ultimately deciding to skip the race.

Now that he is reunited with the horse that earned him a second Kentucky Derby win, Borel is confident — to say the least — in his chances to add a new entry to the record books.

"I want to win the race for Chip and the owners because I owe it to them for giving me the opportunity to ride this horse and make my dream come true," Borel said. "Winning the Triple Crown, might not be on the same horse, but it's very good to me and my career. It's another milestone, and I'm very high on the horse because I love him."

The only recent example of a jockey picking up a different mount was when Grindstone suffered a career-ending injury during his 1996 Kentucky Derby victory, thus forcing jockey Jerry Bailey to find a new horse.

Bailey ended up riding Prince of Thieves in the Preakness, a race that was won by Louis Quatorze with Pat Day aboard.

Eclipse Award winning jockey John Velazquez said he was stunned when Borel got off Mine That Bird following the Derby. But he can relate to the dilemma, having jumped off Circular Quay to ride the filly Rags to Riches to her historic win in the 2007 Belmont Stakes.

"How many times have you seen a jockey win the Kentucky Derby and get off to ride another horse?" Velazquez said. "But I know the feeling that he has. I jumped off another horse to ride (Rags to Riches) because of the quality of horse that she was. So I already did it once."

In 1995 during the peak of his Triple Crown success, D. Wayne Lukas won all three classics with two horses, saddling Thunder Gulch to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont and Timber Country in the Preakness.

"The thing with Calvin, of course, is it hasn't been done so it is a benchmark move in some ways, but I never thought too much about it," Lukas said. "I think to win the Triple Crown with one horse is the ultimate, and the same thing would be with a jockey.

"I don't think it's too big of a deal, anymore than it was when we did it with a couple of horses. And he still has to pull it off. He hasn't done that yet."

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