LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Even with three victories in the last 10 runnings of the Kentucky Derby, Calvin Borel has no prospective mount for the 2017 renewal. And yet the Hall of Fame jockey says he has seldom been happier in his life.
The reason? At age 50, Borel will become a father this fall for the first time. His girlfriend, Renee Falkner, is expecting their child.
“I’m happy, man,” said Borel. “Things are looking up for me.”
The last year or so has been pretty rough for Borel. An agonizing breakup with his former romantic interest was a primary reason he quit riding in March 2016 – but even after returning to the saddle five months later, his career has been unrecognizable in comparison to prior years.
Borel won just 21 races last year – by far his lowest annual total since he began riding in 1983 – and his 2017 record stands at 5 for 119 as racing resumes Wednesday at Keeneland. That’s a far cry from his heyday era of 2007 through 2010, when he won the Derby three times – on Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009), and Super Saver (2010) – and his mounts earned more than $31 million during that four-year span.
“Hopefully, things will pick up at Churchill Downs,” said Borel.
At the Oaklawn meet, Borel said, “We had a bunch of seconds and thirds and got a little unlucky. But I’m not complaining. I’m real good with my life right now.”
Falkner, 29, was an exercise rider for Borel’s older brother Cecil, who abruptly retired from training in the fall of 2014, several months before the death of his wife, Debbie. A native of Florida, Falkner had been working as an exercise rider for D. Wayne Lukas, but now that she’s pregnant, she is working as a hotwalker for the Hall of Fame trainer. Falkner already is the mother of a 2-year-old boy.
“Calvin is over the moon,” she said early Monday at Barn 44 at Churchill. “The baby is due Oct. 3.”
Borel’s agent, Steve Krajcir, said Monday that he hasn’t fielded any serious inquiries from trainers about the May 6 Derby. “We’ve got some feelers out,” he said.