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Borel records 5,000th career win

Borel was all smiles as he piloted his 5,000th winner under the wire at Oaklawn Park (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

Jockey Calvin Borel joined an elite group of just 25 riders when he won the 5,000th race of his career Thursday at Oaklawn Park.

Borel, who returned in late February from a broken wrist, rode Hezunusal to victory in the 6TH race, his first victory since December when he rode a winner at Fair Grounds to reach 4,999 wins.

Borel, who was announced as a finalist for the National Racing Hall of Fame last Friday, also reached his 3,000th and 4,000th-win milestones at Oaklawn.

"When I started, I didn't even dream of riding 5,000 races, let alone winning 5,000," Borel said. "I would like to dedicate this race to my agent (Jerry Hissam). He's done a great job. We had three Kentucky Derby wins and Rachel Alexandra.

"I want to thank all the trainers and fans. I think they saw I always tried my best and appreciated it. I'm really happy I got this at Oaklawn. It's one of my favorite tracks."

A broken wrist delayed Borel's journey to win 5,000 (Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography)

"I've been blessed to work for such a gentleman these 22 years," said Hissam, who has been recovering from illness at home. "There's no better person. This is just fantastic."

Every person at Oaklawn Thursday received a commemorative trading card honoring Borel's historic achievement courtesy of the City of Hot Springs.

Borel, a 2011 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, was Oaklawn's leading rider in 1995 and 2005. He is probably best known for winning three Kentucky Derbys within four years and as the regular rider of 2009 Horse of the Year and classic queen Rachel Alexandra.

His first Kentucky Derby victory came aboard Street Sense in 2007 and then he won the race in 2009 aboard 50-1 shot Mine That Bird and 2010 aboard Super Saver, the Arkansas Derby runner-up.

Borel was born November 7, 1966, in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, and grew up in Cajun country riding at bush tracks as a child. He reached the highest echelons of racing with a fearless and aggressive riding style -- earning the nickname "Bo-rail" for taking horses through tight spots along the inside.

The reinsman took some time off in late 2012 to portray himself in the "Mine That Bird" movie being filmed at Churchill Downs.

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