But the 48-year-old Hall of Fame jockey says not to interpret that as pending retirement. He said Sunday that he will be back riding at Churchill’s September meet. For one thing, he is looking forward to riding Cosmic Revolution, on whom he finished a good second in a May 21 maiden race in the 2-year-old filly’s first start.
Other than a few years riding at Saratoga, Borel has spent summers riding at Ellis Park, including winning 15 races there last year. But with Cosmic Revolution not likely to run for a few weeks after Churchill’s meet ends, the timing works well.
“I’m just going to rest of up for a while for the fall and then come back,” Borel, who sustained a foot injury in a May 30 training mishap, said Sunday before winning the eighth race on 9-2 shot Miss Cobblestone, his only mount of the day. “I just want to take a little break, let my foot heal like it’s supposed to, just get away for a little while it’s hot in the summer.”
Borel and his wife, Lisa, recently sold their home in eastern Jefferson County and plan to make their six-acre farm in central Florida their permanent residence. Lisa Borel is active in the hunter-jumper show world, with nearby West Palm Beach and Wellington a major hub for that equine discipline.
While Florida is hot in the summer, Borel said, “I can get up when I want to, go to bed when I want to, just work on the farm with the jumping horses and spend some time with the wife, just chill and take four weeks off.”
Borel said he really enjoys buying and helping to train and develop show horses, noting that there’s a good market for reselling them.
But in the meantime, he says he remains passionate about riding races and speculated he’ll ride a couple more years. “I’ve got a couple 2-year-olds I like,” he said. “I think that filly of Lon Wiggins is special. She’s nice.”
Borel’s 5,125 wins and $125.9 million career purse earnings both rank 27th all-time in North America. He is the only jockey to have won the Kentucky Derby three times in a four-year span (and finished third the other year), prevailing on Street Sense in 2007, 50-1 Mine That Bird in 2009 and Super Saver in 2010. The Super Saver victory at age 43 made him the second-oldest jockey to take the Derby, only topped by Bill Shoemaker being 54 when he won on Ferdinand in 1986.
Borel ranks No. 2 at Churchill Downs in all-time victories at 1,181, training only Pat Day’s 2,482. He ranks No. 3 in Churchill stakes with 59. Borel won last fall’s Kentucky Jockey Club on El Kabeir and was to ride the colt in this year’s Kentucky Derby but the horse was scratched with what was described as a bruised foot.
The jockey said Lisa’s show horses will give him his horse fix during the down time – and also a pursuit when he hangs up his riding tack.
“I love it,” he said. “I get on them, then she gets on them and rides and jumps them, but I warm them up. It’s fun. It’s something to do with horses, which I love…. I just like to buy them, get them going and sell them. You can get $25,000, $30,000 for them. I get them for $5,000-$6,000, break them good so some kid can ride them. I will pin-hook (buy and resell) them before thoroughbreds. You get into their mind so easy. It’s not like a thoroughbred, where it takes so long to get them ready.”
Borel’s agent of 24 years, Jerry Hissam, is leaving Kentucky Sunday to return to his home in Hot Springs, Ark., saying he can handle Borel’s business by phone in the two remaining weeks of the spring meet. He said they had talked about taking off the summer before, with the 71-year-old Hissam wanting to be home in Hot Springs, Ark., with his wife.
“I know he didn’t want to ride Ellis because of the hot weather,” he said of Borel. “I didn’t want to stay.… I just think it’s time to go home and spend time with her…. For 46 years I’ve been doing this. We never had a Saturday or a Sunday to take off like a regular person.”