Jockey Calvin Borel celebrates after winning the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird during the 135th Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs last month.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Calvin Borel is back on Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird and everyone in the thoroughbred's camp is happy about it.
And, Borel says, even the horse is happy.
Borel would have ridden Kentucky Oaks and Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra if the filly had entered the Belmont Stakes. But Barbara Banke, wife of co-owner Jess Jackson, says they're looking out for her future. Borel said he is committed to ride the horse for the next year.
Lucky and blessed, are the words Borel uses repeatedly when talking about what he's done since the first weekend in May. How much better does it get for a jockey than to have his choice of the two horses that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown going into the Belmont? He's already way past his dream of just winning the Kentucky Derby. He's done that twice, the first time aboard Street Sense in 2007.
And what do he and Mine That Bird need for a win Saturday?
"We just gotta get lucky," he said, wearing a Mine That Bird hat, before the horse's morning work. "Me and the horse fit good."
Borel rode Mine That Bird a half mile in 50 seconds. The horse was still bouncing and kicking when he came off the track on his way to a cool-down walk and bath under the watch of trainer Chip Woolley.
"He's just a happy camper," Borel said. "We want a happy horse."
And since the Derby turned out so well for Mine That Bird, they're doing everything the same way they did preparing for that race, he said.
Woolley thinks his horse may be even better now after a second-place finish in the Preakness in which he was closing on Rachel Alexandra.
"I was thinking last week, he's probably training better than he did going into the Derby," Woolley said. "He's really into it. Calvin got the work I wanted out of him this morning. ... They just looked like they were bread and butter."
The workout was perfect, Borel said.
"We're ready. We're gonna win it," he said.
And even though there'll be no Triple Crown for his horse, Borel has a chance to do what no jockey has done -- win the three Triple Crown races on two horses.
Even Banke is going to be on Mine That Bird's side when the gates open Saturday.
"I'm hoping Calvin gets the Calvin Triple Crown," she said.
It was only Friday that Jackson announced the filly would not run in the Belmont, making Borel available for Mine That Bird. Borel's agent, Jerry Hissam, said there were never any hard feelings between the two teams and rider.
"We had to go the way we went, and (Woolley) was very comfortable with it," Hissam said. "It's all been real good teamwork between two camps and ourselves."
Borel was scheduled to fly to New York on Monday. He'll do a round of television appearances and ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange during the week leading to the Belmont. And, according to him, it's just luck.
"I got the best filly and the best colt in the world," Borel said. "I can't go wrong."