Triple Crown hopeful gears up for Belmont

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Jockey Calvin Borel has a shot at winning the Triple Crown at Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, but not his horse.

If successful, Borel would have the odd distinction of being the first jockey to win the Triple Crown by saddling two different horses in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Those races make up the three jewels of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

The feat has only been accomplished by 11 horses since 1919, the last being Affirmed in 1978.

Spectators will be on edge at 6:27 p.m. Saturday — the post time for the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes. Twelve other races will be run during the day between 11:35 a.m. and 7:45 p.m.

Borel rode Mine That Bird — a 50−to−1 longshot — to victory at the Kentucky Derby.

He was also the jockey for Rachel Alexandra, which was not entered into the Kentucky Derby by the horse’s then−owner, who did not believe female horses should run in Triple Crown races.

Rachel Alexandra then had a new owner in time for the Preakness Stakes and was the pre−race favorite to win. Borel opted to ride her instead of Mine That Bird, believing Rachel Alexandra was the better horse and saying she would have won the Kentucky Derby if she had been entered.

Rachel Alexandra beat Mine That Bird and 11 other horses in the Preakness Stakes — the first female to win that race since 1924 — but was pulled out of running in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes by her co−owners, who said she deserves “a well−earned vacation,” according to the Associated Press.

Borel said he would have ridden Rachel Alexandra if she had not been taken out of Belmont, according to the AP.

At 1 12 miles, the Belmont Stakes is the longest of the three Triple Crown races.

Big Brown, who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes last year, had his hopes for a Triple Crown win dashed when he finished last, losing to longshot Da’Tara in the Belmont Stakes.

Belmont Park can be accessed via Exit 26−D on the Cross Island Parkway, the Long Island Rail Road, the Q110 and Q2 buses and those buses via the E or F trains.

The track’s parking gates open at 8:15 a.m. and can accommodate up to 18,500 vehicles. General parking is $10. Admission gates open at 8:30 a.m.

Shirts and shoes are required for all levels of seating at Belmont Park, but stricter rules apply for the more exclusive seating levels and clubs at the track.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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