The Kentucky Derby is always a big deal for the Tiebens Family. My husband Gary was born and raised in Louisville, KY and we’ve always loved Jockey Gary Stevens. Today, it’s all about Calvin Borel – “ANOTHER COMMON MAN WHO RODE TO GREATNESS”!
Today, with the win of a Calvin Borel and Mine That Bird, it brought to mind how his win is a symbol of HOPE for the underdog…the underdog being his horse Mine That Bird.
Below is this amazingly inspirational video of his win! Pay attention to his amazing heart warming interview when he gave all the honor to his parents whom he wished were still here to see his win!
Also, make sure to read the article I posted below courtesy of Jerry Izenberg/The Star Ledger ( www.nj.com ) . I hope this will inspire you to understand that SUCCESS IS INDEED A CHOICE!
Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel had
no doubt long shot Mine That Bird could pull it off
by Jerry Izenberg/The Star-Ledger
Saturday May 02, 2009, 9:03 PM
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It began the way it always does — with the thump of horseflesh against horseflesh in a field so crowded, the wonder is that somebody didn’t bounce all the way to Cincinnati. Dunkirk, a hot wise-guy horse, stumbled, and elsewhere Mine That Bird, a colt nobody was even thinking about, had to fight a pair of horses for simple living space.Calvin Borel, up on Mine That Bird, did what he has always done here at Churchill Downs. He grabbed hold, steered clear and headed for his office.
There are no markers … no traffic cones to delineate the footprint of his office. At its widest point, it is approximately 5 or 6 feet from the rail here at Churchill Downs. It is to Calvin what the 6 inches next to home plate were for pitchers like Don Drysdale or Early Wynn, or what the middle of the field just behind the down linemen was for Lawrence Taylor.
Here at this racetrack, the clockers and the grooms and the trainers know it is a fact of life that the rail belongs to Calvin.
It doesn’t matter what the purse, what the distance, what the time of year … whether it’s a $5,000 claimer or the Kentucky Derby. When Calvin puts the lock on his office door, the race is over.
Saturday it just took him a little longer.
In Mine That Bird’s last out, he did well to get fourth at a New Mexico racetrack called Sunland Park. The race wasn’t even a graded one. Afterward his trainer, Bennie Woolley, a one-time rodeo bareback rider who lost by more than the traditional eight-count to a nasty horse, found himself twisted until he looked like a pretzel, and in that instant he became a trainer of race horses.
Nobody gave this horse a chance to win the Derby.
Nobody except Calvin.
Calvin does not scheme. Calvin does not evaluate. What Calvin does is ride anything you put him up on for all it’s worth until he runs out of racetrack.
So in less time than it takes to read this, Calvin put a hold on his colt and wheeled him into the office. And then, in his own good time, he took the horse from dead last in a field of 20 to the head of the class … took him through the toughest traffic thoroughbred racing has to offer anywhere in the world.
“I really didn’t come here with a great conviction that we could win,” Woolley said. But nobody really asked Calvin.
You cannot discount the work ethic of a jockey who came to Churchill as a kid from the Louisiana Cajun country … a guy who still mucks stalls and exercises mounts in the morning … a guy who began racing in bush-track quarterhorse match races at age 7 and graduated to thoroughbreds at tiny Evangeline Downs and was the kind of hell-for-leather jock that knew horses as well as the technique of riding them.
As romantics like to say, “The old songs are the best,” and Calvin Borel doesn’t simply know this song. He wrote words and music and performed it over and over again in his office. He has won races from the rail so many times that, along the backstretch, everyone from groom to hot walker to exercise rider calls him “Calvin Bo-Rail.”
So Saturday they came banging out of the gate and there was, as usual, the battle for running room — a battle that often determines the winner and at least a few losers before they get through the first turn.
Calvin did not panic. Calvin knows every pebble, every hump and every inch of this racing strip. It didn’t matter that the rain had left the track what jockeys like to call “wet fast.” He had the horse and the hands and a rapport with his colt that bordered on the occult. He immediately transformed the wish into the deed and angled a sharp turn over toward the rail, bringing Mine That Bird directly into Calvin’s Alley.
At first look, it is difficult to see the logic in this. Yes, it kept him out of trouble, but, conversely, it left him with 18 horses to pass. But the lessons of the Bayou country where he learned to hold horseflesh together as a kid in short pants were not lost.
Calvin was in no hurry. Experience whispered in his inner ear and reminded him of that. So while the rest of world looked for the favorites up front, Calvin let his colt run easily — unnoticed by the others and unidentified by the track announcer.
Then Calvin began to ask the question that horses can answer only when rider and animal share that unspoken, almost telepathic sense of communication. It was in that instant that Calvin guided him to a position where he could traverse the dimensions of Calvin’s Alley — that comfortable old shoe of a lane were Calvin had taken so many other horses along the circuit that runs from Kentucky to Arkansas to Louisiana.
This is a race where the faint of heart and the jockey with bad judgment disappear at the head of the stretch … where those who come at the leaders often must deal with other tired horses coming back at them.
But Calvin did not look for more running room — not yet. He did not venture outside of Calvin’s Alley — at least not yet. Up ahead, there were two horses blocking his path. They were side by side. The distance between them appeared to be tighter than a gnat’s eyelash.
“No,” Calvin said after they draped the roses across his colt, “there was more room than you could see. There was sure room enough.”
Calvin knows as much about calculating running room as he does about measuring the open area alongside the rail. “Plenty of room,” he said.
“You know you’re in it to win it, and I got a hole so I took a shot. He has a small horse,” he deadpanned, so it wasn’t a big thing. “It’s not the first mile that decides it. It’s the last one.”
The move triggered a Niagara roar in 1979.
Calvin matched it with a sound all his own as he pointed to where he believed his fiancee was standing. “I won the Derby,” he shouted and smacked the horse with an affectionate open palm. “I won the Derby, Derby, Derby … ” and then his words trailed off.
But Calvin isn’t showy.
Hell, it was just another day at the office.
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