Example of trading card to be issued after Calvin Borel's win. (Photo: Hot Springs National Park)
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas - When legendary jockey Calvin Borel notches his 5,000th career victory this month at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs the event will be celebrated by the issuance of another in the series of Hot Springs trading cards that will be given free to those in attendance that day.
"We have done a series of these trading cards beginning in 2001 shortly after President Bill Clinton left office," said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs. "They have been among the most successful marketing items we have ever done, with hundreds of thousands distributed free around the globe. When Calvin rides his 5,000th victory we'll give out free Calvin Borel cards at Oaklawn that day."
"He rode his 4,999th victory in New Orleans last week, and his historic 5,000th should come fairly quickly when Oaklawn opens its 2013 live race meet on January 11," Arrison said. "We can't know for certain which day that victory will come, but we'll be prepared to hand out free cards at the track that day.
"The only way to get one of the free cards will be to be present at Oaklawn the day he wins No. 5,000. We will not be issuing the cards anywhere else, and we will not accept mailed-in requests for them. You must be there the day he rides the 5,000th victory. Only 25 jockeys have ever attained that number, and Calvin has been a winner at Oaklawn for years."
The cards will follow the traditional format of the earlier cards, which contain a color photo on the front and text information on the back along with information about visiting Hot Springs, Arrison said.
"We did a special card to mark the appearance of the legendary Zenyatta in the Apple Blossom race three years ago," he said. "That was one of the most popular cards in our series, which began in 2001 with cards linking President Clinton to his hometown of Hot Springs.
"Since then, we've done special cards connected to our World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade and marking Hot Springs' special ties to Japan through our successful Sister Cities program. We gave away free cards in Dublin and Hanamaki, Japan. We also did a Spanish-language card one time.
"The Calvin Borel card will join those phenomenally successful marketing programs."
Borel has ridden a total of 6,365 races at Oaklawn with 899 wins, 817 seconds and 708 thirds with $20,395,809 in earnings. He has won a total of 46 stakes at Oaklawn, including 12 graded," according to David Longinotti, assistant general manager for racing.
"Calvin was our leading rider in 1995 and 2001," Longinotti said.
"The Zenyatta trading card was an amazing success," Longinotti said, "and we expect the Borel 5,000th victory card to be popular also. The only difference is that you must be present at Oaklawn on the day he rides his 5,000th victory.
"We'll have special areas set up where fans can receive their cards. We are thinking that we'll hand out two cards per person until they're all gone, but that could change depending on the demand."
Borel's biggest wins at Oaklawn are:
• 1993 Arkansas Derby with Rockamundo
• 1995 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap with Hot Jaws
• 2000 Oaklawn Handicap with K One King
• 1997 Apple Blossom Handicap with Halo America
• 2001 Apple Blossom Handicap with Gourmet Girl
• 2009 Fantasy Stakes with Rachel Alexandra
His Triple Crown wins:
• 2007 Kentucky Derby - Street Sense
• 2009 Kentucky Derby - Mine That Bird
• 2009 Preakness Stakes - Rachel Alexandra
• 2010 Kentucky Derby - Super Saver
He was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in February 2011 and just three days later left for Dubai where he won the Meydan Masters, an international jockey competition.
In recent years, Borel, a two-time-riding champ at Oaklawn, has become synonymous with Kentucky Derby success, winning the Run for the Roses three times in four years between 2007 and 2010 including with 2010 Arkansas Derby runner-up Super Saver. The Kentucky Derby streak is matched only by riding great Eddie Arcaro. His streak started with Street Sense, whom he rode for longtime client Carl Nafzger. He became a household name by
riding Mine That Bird to victory in the 2009 Derby, but then sticking with eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness two weeks later.
Borel was born November 7, 1966 in St. Martin Parish, La., and grew up in Louisiana Cajun country and started 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 his courage taking horses through tight spots along the inside. He took some time off in late 2012 to portray himself in the "Mine That Bird" movie being filmed at Churchill Downs.