Jockey going for 5,000th winOriginally Published January 10, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated January 8, 2013 at 3:27 p.m.
Veteran jockey Carl Borel, left, and Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, look over a printed sheet that will become trading cards celebrating Borel’s 5,000th victory of his career. As many as 30,000 of the special trading cards will be given out at Oaklawn Park on the day Borel rides to his milestone vistory as only the 25th rider to achieve 5,000 wins in thoroughbred horse racing.
A Hot Springs tradition that dates back to 1905 is new again with the opening of the thoroughbred horse-racing season at Oaklawn Park on Friday.
Coming fewer than two weeks after heavy snows and ice practically brought Hot Springs and large parts of Arkansas to a stop, the racing officials at Oaklawn are hoping for a repeat of last year’s good weather.
“It was near perfect weather last year, and it was one of our greatest years of racing,” said Jennifer Hoyt, media relations manager for Oaklawn. “All that snow the last week of December made me think of 2011 when winter weather lost us a record eight cards of racing, including opening day.”
This year, Hoyt said, the track has 32 additional stakes races, with $5.6 million in prize money this season, but the excitement of seeing history made could come as early as opening day.
Jockey Calvin Borel rode to his 4,999th victory in New Orleans at the end of December, and he could become the 25th rider to reach 5,000 wins fairly quickly when racing begins.
To celebrate the event, Oaklawn Park and Hot Springs will issue a special trading card on the day of his 5,000th win.
“We have done a series of these trading cards beginning in 2001, featuring President Bill Clinton shortly after he left office,” said Steve Arrison, CEO of Visit Hot Springs, the city’s visitor and convention bureau. “They have been among the most successful marketing items we have ever done.”
Arrison said the last trading card to be issued for Oaklawn was for Zenyatta, one of the greatest racing horses in recent years. The card was issued three years ago when the filly appeared in the Apple Blossom race.
“The Zenyatta card was an amazing success,” said David Longinotti, assistant general manager for racing at Oaklawn. “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 next victory to get the card.”
Longinotti said there would be special areas set up at the park where fans could receive their cards.
“We think we will hand out two cards per person until they’re all gone, but that could change, depending of the
demand or attendance that day,” he said.
Borel watched the cards being printed Monday at
Arkansas Graphics in Little Rock. He signed some of the huge pages that will be cut into trading cards.
Bobby Ryder, the plant manager, said the high-speed, four-color press printed the sheets for the cards in just more than two hours.
“I expect to get [the victory] that first day of racing,” Borel said at the printer’s office. “I had actually thought I would get it earlier.”
However, he said it would be “just another day at the office.”
Jerry Hissam, Borel’s agent, said it would only be right for the veteran jockey to have his 5,000th victory on the track at Oaklawn.
“We got his 3,000th victory there, as well as his 4,000th win,” Hissam said.
Borel has ridden in 6,365 races at Oaklawn over the years, with 899 wins, and 817 second-place and 708 third-place finishes for a total of $20,395,809 in earnings for the horses’ owners, Longinotti said.
The racing will continue each week through April 13 and will end with the annual Racing Festival of the South, with eight stakes races over the final four days of the season, including the $1 million Arkansas Derby on the last day of the season.
For more information, call (800) OAK-LAWN or visit www.oaklawn.com.
Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or email@example.com.