Horse racing: Borel anticipates ’super race’ from Super Saver
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE — A year ago, Calvin Borel jumped from the Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird onto Rachel Alexandra and won the Preakness.
This month, after winning his third Derby in four years, the standout jockey decided to stay aboard Super Saver for the Preakness and take a shot at capturing the Triple Crown.
The one similarity is that Borel entered the 2009 Preakness and Saturday's 135th edition certain his ride would end in the winner's circle. Heck, he predicted a Triple Crown for Super Saver two weeks ago and won't back down from that assessment.
"I'm always confident in my horse," Borel said. "I maybe say things that I shouldn't — that I'm going to win it. I don't know if people understand, but if you're going to ride, why don't you want to win it? C'mon. That's me. I'm coming here to win the race."
A victory by Super Saver would put the colt one win away from becoming the first since Affirmed in 1978 to seize the Triple Crown.
"I know a lot of things can happen," Borel acknowledged, "but I think he'll run a super race."
Borel wasn't the only person associated with Super Saver exuding confidence in the horse. After galloping on Super Saver on Friday morning, exercise rider Kevin Willey told trainer Todd Pletcher that the colt has improved since winning the Derby.
"I hope he's right," said Pletcher, adding that he probably would have entered Super Saver in the Preakness even if the horse didn't win at Churchill Downs.
"His appetite has been good," the trainer said. "I don't think he's lost much from the Derby."
Super Saver was the early 5-2 pick, followed by Kentucky Derby favorite Lookin at Lucky, trained by Bob Baffert.
"This is a chance to redeem myself," said Baffert, whose horse finished sixth in the Derby after starting from the dreaded No. 1 post position.
"If it would have been a boxing match, it would have been called in the first round," Baffert said of Lookin at Lucky's run in the Derby. "But that's racing. You take the good with the bad."
In the Preakness, Baffert drew the No. 7 post in the 12-horse race. After the Derby, he changed jockeys, selecting Martin Garcia to replace Garrett Gomez. This will be Garcia's first run in the Preakness.
"I'm sure he'll have some butterflies," Baffert said of the 25-year-old rider.
Gomez ended up on Dublin, which will be saddled by D. Wayne Lukas. Dublin finished seventh in the Derby with Terry Thompson on board.
"Baffert felt sorry for me and said, 'You want my rider?' joked Lukas.
If Baffert really wanted to do his friend a favor, he would have offered to trade post positions. Lukas drew the far outside for Dublin, and made no attempt to mask his displeasure.
"I don't think anyone wants 1 or 12, but we're going to make the most of it," he said.
Baffert will also saddle Northern Giant, a 30-1 long shot with one career win.
"We're taking a little swing at the fences, obviously," Lukas said.
Lukas, Baffert and Nick Zito, trainer for Jackson Bend, all know what it's like to win the Preakness. Pletcher, who's 0 for 4 in the race, hopes to get that winning feeling on Saturday.
He believes Borel can make it happen.
"I think he's a really, really good fit for this colt," Pletcher said of Borel. "He's got a light touch and it seems the colt relaxes well for him. I think there is a lot of good chemistry between the two of them."