Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel Abruptly Retires

A surprising and abrupt announcement Wednesday when Hall of Fame Jockey Calvin Borel called it quits at the age of 50. His agent Larry Melancon confirmed the news at Oaklawn Park, where Borel began riding in 1990 and was the tracks leading rider in 1995 and 2001. At Oaklawn, he also earned his 3,000th, 4,000th, and 5,000th career victories.

Borel began his career in 1983. He won the 2009 Preakness Stakes aboard Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra. He also rode three Kentucky Derby winners in 2007 (Street Sense), 2009 (Mine That Bird at 50-1 odds) and 2010 (Super Saver).

Borel was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2013. He retires with 5,146 career victories placing him 27th in North American history. That includes 947 victories in Hot Springs including 51 stakes wins at Oaklawn. He won all five of Oaklawn’s major Racing Festival of the South events at least once including the Arkansas Derby in 1993 aboard 108-1 longshot Rockamundo.

A horseman all his life, hard work and talent made Calvin Borel a Hall of Famer. He was also a fan favorite and many riders idolized him. So too did his longtime trainer, Jerry Hissam.

“Personally, we were together for 24 years and he was like a son to me,” said  Hissam, who retired last year. “His success came strictly from extreme hard work that his brother (Cecil) laid on him and he’s done it.”

After learning of Borel’s retirement, Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery issued the following statement:

“Along with his three Kentucky Derby victories and his status as one of the most accomplished jockeys in Churchill Downs history, Calvin’s 20 years at our track were as notable for his relationship with our fans as his excellence on the track. Calvin rose to racing’s Hall of Fame from humble beginnings, and that was reflected in his ongoing relationship with our fans – and especially children. He loved the kids and felt a responsibility to provide a positive image to them and to let them know daily how much he appreciated them. There have been few, if any, individuals quite like Calvin Borel in 142 years of history at Churchill Downs. We thank him for a job well done and wish him the best in the future.

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