Remember Where You Live

by Ed Meyer

posted on July 21, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

Many people forget where they come from when they hit a big score and become a celebrity. The lights get so bright, and the fans’ cheers are deafening. That happens to many, but not Calvin Borel….

I had my doubts after Rachel rolled into history in the Preakness. I was sure that he would have an inflated head. Going into the Belmont, I was sure he had changed. Late-night talk shows, big city lights, and being the toast of the town. I thought the small-time Cajun rider was gone out and out of the ballpark.

On Sunday, Calvin came back to little Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky. A day after winning  a $15,000 claiming event at the little track known as the “Pea Patch,” Borel was glad to help racing in the Bluegrass state.

Borel came from humble beginnings. He grew up in South Louisiana, and was riding match races as an 8-year-old. His brother, Cecil, was the first rider in the family, then went on to start training. Calvin Borel quickly decided that was the life for him.

“I went to eighth grade, and then I left,” he said while sitting in the jockeys’ room at Ellis on Saturday. “All I wanted to do was ride and my parents could see that. I lived with my brother (Cecil); he was the natural. He kept me straight, kept me away from drugs, kept me working, kept teaching me how to ride.”

This hard-working lifestyle has taken him a long way. You can find him in the shed row doing the work of a groom. He keeps fit, and is connected with his roots.

“One thing my folks and my brother taught me is you don’t forget where you come from,” said Borel. “If it’s good when you’re coming up, then you want it to be good when the time comes that you’re going back down.”

“I don’t know how long I’ll keep doing this … 10 years, five years, as long as I stay healthy and love the game like I love it now.”

Borel came back. He has faced, and will face again, some of the best racing has to offer. So, if there were any doubters (including myself), the man is back on the ground. I believe he will have big shots on the marquee runners again. It seems the harder he works the luckier he gets. If half of that holds true, then Borel is destined to join the 5,000 winner club, and make a date with the H.O.F. someday. But until then, I think we will see the blue-collar man giving it his all.