Associated Press, Published November 06 2010
Horse racing jockeys Borel, Castellano fight at Breeders' Cup
Most times, the dustups take place behind closed doors, not in the winner's circle.
And certainly not on national television following a Breeders' Cup race.
Yet Calvin Borel was angry following a bumpy ride in the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon on Friday at Churchill Downs. When he approached rival Javier Castellano to sort things out, it was obvious Borel — who has endeared himself to fans because of the way he wears his heart on his silks — was upset.
Moments later, the winner's circle at Churchill Downs erupted into chaos, with one of the sport's most colorful characters red with rage.
Borel and Castellano's very public tussle got racing's two-day Super Bowl off to an ugly start that left Castellano shaken and Borel pleading with security officials to let him go so he could "kill" his rival.
Two riders who usually save their jostling for the racetrack turned that ground — a place typically reserved for big smiles and even bigger winner's checks — into a fight club on Friday after the opening race of the Breeders' Cup.
The 43-year-old Borel waited for Castellano after the Marathon, angry over a mid-race move in which Castellano and mount Prince Will I Am unwittingly cut off horses ridden by Borel and Martin Garcia.
The move nearly sent Garcia tumbling to the ground and blunted Borel's momentum.
An inquiry was ordered shortly after the race was finished. While Castellano waited to talk to track officials, Borel approached Castellano and jabbed his right hand in the 33-year-old Venezuelan's face.
The 5-foot-1, 110-pound Castellano then made a move toward Borel, who is 4 inches taller. Security officials struggled to separate the two, just a few yards away from where Marathon winner Eldaafer's owners were posing with the Breeders' Cup trophy.
It took several minutes for Borel — his eyes bugging out and his face a deep shade of red — to be restrained. His wife, Lisa, and brother Cecil each grabbed an arm and walked Borel back to the jockeys' room, where he flung off his silks.
The disagreement continued out of the view of cameras in the jockey room, though Borel later apologized for his outburst on his Facebook page.
"It was a situation that deserved to be resolved, however, said resolution should have taken place within the privacy of the jockeys quarters," Borel wrote.
Kentucky chief state steward John Veitch said officials will meet with Borel, Castellano and Garcia on Saturday morning to review videotape of the race and the fight. If officials find either jockey at fault, penalties could range from a warning to a suspension.
Veitch said neither rider had previously been disciplined for fighting, and both will be allowed to ride at the track over the weekend. Borel has two mounts on the Breeders' Cup card Saturday, while Castellano has six.
The incident, however, created an almost surreal scene at Borel's home track.
A fan favorite at Churchill Downs because of his trademark rail-hugging rides and his ability to turn long shots into winners, Borel was surrounded by security officials before and after each of his final two races on the first day of horse racing's version of the Super Bowl.
One fan shouted: "Kick some (butt), Calvin."
Borel declined numerous requests to speak to reporters. His agent, Jerry Hissam, said his client "just wants to ride."
The scuffle was a decided step out of character for the easygoing and humble Borel, a lifelong jockey who has flourished under the twin spires.
In May, he tucked Super Saver along the rail, his favorite spot, to become the first jockey to win three Derbys in four years.
And Borel nearly pulled off his own personal triple crown in 2009. Mine That Bird won the Derby, then Borel switched to filly Rachel Alexandra to win the Preakness before going back to Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes, finishing third.
Though jockeys have been known to tangle on the track during races, the postrace dustup was jarring in a sport known for monied owners, big hats, seersucker suits and toothy grins in the winner's circle.
Not this time as a brawl more suited for a bar broke out in the track's most revered place.
Both Borel and Garcia had reason to be angry.
During the race, Castellano moved into the path of Romp and Martin Garcia, causing the horse to stumble. Borel and A.U. Miner were jostled as a result.
"I had pressure outside me," Castellano said. "I went for a hole and they said I took his lane. I don't know. I don't know."
Prince Will I Am, who finished second behind winner Eldaafer, was disqualified and placed 10th while A.U. Miner was bumped up to third in a race that will be remembered more for the chaos afterward.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.