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Jockey Calvin Borel Prepares for the Preakness

Calvin Borel is the jockey for Street Sense, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby.
Andy Lyons
/
Getty Images
Calvin Borel is the jockey for Street Sense, the horse that won the Kentucky Derby.
Calvin Borel rides Street Sense to the head of the Kentucky Derby pack on May 5, 2007.
Jeff Haynes / AFP/Getty Images
/
AFP/Getty Images
Calvin Borel rides Street Sense to the head of the Kentucky Derby pack on May 5, 2007.

Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel awaits a much-anticipated run at the Triple Crown with the second of three events, the Preakness, set to take place Saturday in Baltimore.

The fabled top prize in horse racing, the Triple Crown, has gone unclaimed since 1978. That year, Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes to take the honor.

But each year on the first Saturday in May, another young horse with a Derby win in Louisville behind him has a brand-new chance.

Calvin Borel, who rides Street Sense, has won 4,300 races. But his name has been well-known for only a couple of weeks — since the day he and his horse took the race at Churchill Downs.

Borel is 40 years old. When he tells you he's been in 25,000 races, he smiles as if it seems hard to believe. He refers to his accidents as "a few spills." Over the years, his body has endured numerous broken bones, a ruptured spleen and missing teeth.

"You know, you might ride to 45- to 50-years-old, if you're lucky," Borel said.

Asked about his friends in the business who have been seriously hurt, Borel answers, "Oh yeah, many friends, and some friends got killed. You know, I love it so much I don't let that get in my way. To me, if you're scared, that's when you're going to get hurt."

And as for the day he and Street Sense came from behind to win the Derby at Louisville, Borel said it is the sound of the crowd that he will remember.

"I mean, you wouldn't imagine the noise," he said. "God, how these horses run through this. I never heard it until the last five or six jumps, when I knew I was going to win. I caught goose bumps, cried. It was unbelievable, the greatest moment of my life."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.

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