Calvin Borel to Ride Arabian at Keeneland
Trainer of Arabian TM SuperBird Thrilled to be at Keeneland
article courtesy Keeneland
Horse racing is full of superstitions and omens. Here’s one to note: Jockey Calvin Borel has won the past two runnings of the Kentucky Derby (G1) Presented by Yum! Brands on Mine That Bird in 2009 and Super Saver in 2010. On Saturday, he will ride an undefeated Arabian named TM Super Bird in The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup (G1), a $50,000-added stakes that is the first Arabian race in Keeneland history.
“As soon as (Borel) said he would do it, I got little knots in my stomach,” said Elizabeth Brand, who trains TM Super Bird. “The pressure’s on. I’m so excited.”
Brand, who received the 2008 Darley Award - Arabian racing’s equivalent of the Eclipse Award - as the year’s outstanding trainer, conditions Arabians at Arapahoe Park near Denver and at Retama Park near San Antonio, Texas. Her neighbor at Retama is Thoroughbred trainer Allen Dupuy, who is a longtime friend of Borel’s.
“(Dupuy said) ‘If you’re going to Keeneland, why don’t you get Calvin to ride that horse?’” Brand recalled. “I said he’s not going to ride an Arabian.”
Dupuy called Borel, and the connection with “Super Bird” was made.
TM Super Bird, who was bred in Texas by Todd Moak, is a 4-year-old daughter of leading sire Burning Sand who has five wins, including a 10 ¼-length score in a stake at Arapahoe in August. The filly races for the Teutsch and Hammad Partnership of Ray and Jane Teutsch and Faisal Hammad. The Teutschs own horse farms in Colorado and Texas, and Hammad is an international businessman who lives in Jordan.
Brand, a Colorado native, is a lifelong horsewoman who showed and has worked with many breeds of horses. Along the way, she spent a few months in Camden, South Carolina, working with steeplechase horses trained by Jonathan Sheppard. She began training Arabian racehorses for a woman she knew who had acquired some Arabians. The first horse Brand entered in a race in 1998 came home a winner.
TM Super Bird is coming off a four-length win in the Texas Arabian Oaks at Retama on September 11. Brand made a box stall for TM Super Bird in her six-horse trailer, and drove the filly to Kentucky, arriving at Keeneland last Friday night to give the filly plenty of time to settle in to her new surroundings. TM Super Bird is expected to make her first appearance on Keeneland’s main track on Tuesday. Brand is relishing every minute of the experience.
“I’m not really sure how to put it into words, especially having Calvin on my horse,” Brand said. “That’s just something that’s surreal. This (race) is big for our breed to get the word out. It’ll be a moment in my life I will never forget.”
The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup is sponsored by the Emirates Equestrian Federation, which is based in Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. The Emirates Equestrian Federation also is sponsoring the $400,000 Abu Dhabi First Lady (G1) the same day.
Keeneland’s connection with the Emirates Equestrian Federation began in 2009, when Director of Racing Rogers Beasley and Director of Sales Geoffrey Russell traveled to several Middle Eastern countries as part of Keeneland’s emerging markets program, which works to build relationships with horsemen around the world and promote interest in Kentucky’s Thoroughbred industry. One result of that trip was the partnership with the Emirates Equestrian Federation, and this fall marked the perfect time for the two to work together.
The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup, which is expected to attract reigning Horse of the Year Sand Witcch (another daughter of Burning Sand), falls on the penultimate day of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park.