Why Calvin Borel Is Still the Class of the Kentucky Derby

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Why Calvin Borel Is Still the Class of the Kentucky Derby
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

If you’re a fan of Calvin Borel, then you already know he has the stones to pull an upset at Churchill Downs on every mount brought to the starting gate. This is horse racing, where nothing is guaranteed—but Borel’s recent history would beg to differ.

Borel has been the class of the Kentucky Derby, as he has won three of the last five Derbys prior to Saturday’s race.

All of them brought double-digit payoffs to those who were lucky enough to be holding a winning ticket, and that includes a 2009 ride on Mine That Bird, who paid $103.20 on a $2 bet.

That was the largest payoff from a Derby winner since Donerail in 1913, who won the race at odds of more than 91/1.

All during the Derby prep season, handicappers were waiting and watching to see which horse Borel would be riding.

If you’re asking why, well his name on a Kentucky Derby mount means the horse’s odds are lower than expected. His proven mystique appears yearly on the first weekend of May, as Derby favorites are often all dressed up with no place to go.

Calvin "Borail" is famous for his legendary riding-the-rail performances at the Derby, as this position on the track is his home away from home.

Borel helps longshots perform at a higher level than ever before, simply by having them maintain the pace of the race. If he can gain the position closest to the rail, then Borel can avoid the threat of running into heavy traffic, a definite trait of any Kentucky Derby race.

Suddenly, he becomes fearless out of each turn on the track.

Too much pressure is placed upon a jockey on Derby day, as one bad decision will leave them in the back of an endless field with their hope of wearing the roses quickly vanishing.

Your best bet is never leaving off a Calvin Borel-ridden horse on an exacta wager at Churchill Downs. 

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