Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Genius of Calvin Borel

Man, how can you not love this guy?

Humble in victory, mowing his lawn the day before the Preakness, back at Churchill riding claimers the day after Rachel's victory, etc.

I've seen him in person a few times this meet at Churchill, and he acts no different after his last 2 big wins as he did before. Class act.

Now onto the 3 things I've seen that lead me to believe this guy is even better than his win record indicates.

Number one is simple and well known, he chooses the rail trip when at all possible, as its the shortest way around the track, everyone knows this about him.

Number two: I have observed him adding a quarter mile strong gallop out to nearly every work in the mornings. Maybe he was told to do so by the trainer, but I doubt it because he was pretty consistent regardless of who he was riding. He makes 6F timed works actually 1 mile in length, 4f breezes become 6f, and so on.

Finally, on many occassions I see him break away from the lead pony and vigorously warm his horses up in the post parade. He's on the backstretch after a quarter mile gallop in 30sec or so while everyone else is still walking. Then he allows his mount to jog, walk, and calm down prior to loading in the gate. Brilliant. Of course he may not do this on the big stage with 50 TV cameras on him - because some would think he was crazy. 

When he does this the spleen of the horse contracts, and brand new red blood cells are introduced into the bloodstream, ready to carry oxygen to muscles during the race. All other un-warmed up horses accomplish this within the first furlong when the race is underway, but Calvin has already bought himself some extra time until fatigue with his pre-race routine.


  1. I'm astonished that every jock doesn't do the kind of warmup that Borel does. Everyone knows, or should know by now, that a brisk warmup to get spleen function going is important in any race that goes more than 5-6 furlongs, but most jocks still don't get their horses ready at all. Can they all be so dumb, and even if they are, most trainers are at least literate and should be telling the jocks what to do.

  2. Steve-

    No jock, exercise rider, or trainer that I have ever worked with knows about the splenic contraction and it's positive effect on racing performance.

    They are more afraid of looking bad to their rivals if they have a horse lose after a non traditional warm up routine.

  3. Nice post Bill. These correspond also with my thoughts--particularly regards the extended gallop outs in the breezes.

  4. I believe the reason that it's not done is that the typical jock will get shot if his ride runs away with him and gets scratched prior to the race. You see this every once in a while and it is almost always the reason people want a pony in the first place. I mean really, why pony at all? What risk are you mitigating? I see at least once a card a horse being wrestled into submission trying to slow him down and I always imagine the owner/trainer berating the jock if that horse doesn't win.
    And that's why it isn't done, not because of willful ignorance, it's that the down side risk of a warmup gone bad outweighs the perceived benefit. (Personally, I don't agree, I'm just saying....)