64 Parishes

Calvin Borel

Louisiana's Calvin Borel is the only jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times in a four-year span.

Calvin Borel

Public Domain.

A photograph of Calvin Borel, an American jockey from south Louisiana.

A quiet Cajun from South Louisiana with an infectious smile, Calvin Borel is the only jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times in a four-year span, accomplishing the feat with Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009), and Super Saver (2010). Since 1983, he has won more than five thousand races and earned more than $122 million, and he has made a name for himself as one of the greats in horse racing history.

Borel was born in St. Martinville to Clovis and Ella Borel on November 7, 1966. Like his older brother, Cecil, Calvin began riding at an early age and was taking part in unsanctioned, informal match races by the age of eight. Acadiana has long been known for producing many jockeys, and horse racing culture is integral to the regional character of the Cajun prairie.

Borel is known throughout the horse racing world for his Cajun accent, his tireless work ethic, and his contagious sense of humor, but he went largely unnoticed outside of racing circles until he rode a 91-to-1 longshot named Seek Gold to victory at the 2006 Stephen Foster Handicap in a breathtaking “by-a-nose” finish at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.

Since his first major win in 1991 with the aptly named Free Spirit’s Joy in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City and up to the present day, Borel has become famous for flawlessly executing his signature move on the track, guiding his mount through traffic to the rail to shave off precious distance to the finish line. He has done it successfully so often that he is affectionately called “Bo-rail,” a play on his name.

After winning the 2007 Kentucky Derby, Borel became the sixth jockey in the history of Churchill Downs to win six races on the same day (July 5, 2007). On June 4, 2010, Borel became only the second jockey to win one thousand career races at Churchill Downs.

He also is the first jockey to win two legs of the Triple Crown on different horses, taking the 2009 Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird, a 50-to-1 longshot, and the 2009 Preakness on Rachel Alexandra. His victory by 6-3/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby constituted not only a major upset but also the largest margin of victory in the derby since 1946.

In 2013 Borel was elected to the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, alongside fellow South Louisiana jockeys Randy Romero (2010) and Kent DesOrmeaux (2004). He currently makes his home in Louisville, Kentucky.