NEW YORK (AP) - Calvin Borel grinned at the question: Would Mine
That Bird have passed Rachel Alexandra if the Preakness were 1½
"I have no comment," he said.
Borel has been all tangled up in the drama involving the two
horses. And now because of it he has a chance to make history: the
first jockey to capture the three legs of the Triple Crown on two
Borel won the Kentucky Derby on 50-1 long shot Mine That Bird.
When Rachel Alexandra entered the Preakness, Borel switched horses
to the filly he had ridden to five straight victories. Rachel
Alexandra then edged Mine That Bird to thwart the gelding's shot at
a Triple Crown.
Now Rachel Alexandra is skipping the Belmont, and Borel is back
aboard Mine That Bird.
Those twists and turns created the possibility of another kind
of Triple Crown. Winning all three races in one year is what Borel
has fantasized since he was a kid.
"I never dreamed I'd have to do it on a different horse," he
Borel was at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, and not backing
down from his guarantee of victory a day earlier.
"I'm sticking with it," he declared.
Just as he boasted about Rachel Alexandra before the Preakness,
Borel quickly shifted his proclamations to Mine That Bird. He said
his latest prediction was natural after seeing how the gelding
responded during Monday's workout at Churchill Downs.
"When you run them two races and come back so fresh like he did
- I mean, he was bouncing," he said. "And that does not happen."
Borel, who won his first Kentucky Derby aboard Street Sense in
2007, will be making his first Belmont Stakes start. He plans to
follow the same patient strategy that worked so well in the Derby,
when Mine That Bird rallied from last to first.
"One reason we picked Calvin to ride the horse is he likes that
style," trainer Chip Woolley said.
It's a style that may be a natural for the 1½-mile Belmont. The
Derby is 1¼ miles, the Preakness 1 3-16.
"The mile-and-a-half is a question for a lot of us," Dunkirk
jockey John Velazquez said. "It seems suited for Mine That Bird
better than everyone else."
No wonder Borel is so confident in Mine That Bird.
"He's a grinder," the jockey said. "The race will fit him
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)