After coming out of retirement at this year's Oaklawn meeting, trainer Cecil Borel recorded his first victory in more than 4 ½ years in an April 11 starter-allowance sprint for Arkansas-breds with K J's Nobility. Now, Borel will be bidding for his first stakes victory in almost 10 years.
Following a 7-furlong work in 1:35 Saturday morning, Borel gave K J's Nobility the green light for the $200,000 Arkansas Breeders' Championship May 4, a 1 1/16-mile event that is the biggest two-turn prize for state-breds at the meet.
“He worked all right,” said Borel, the older brother of Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel. “He did good. Galloped out good. Wish I had got a route race in him, but, hell, that other race was too easy to pass up.”
K J's Nobility represented Borel's first victory since Aug. 2, 2014, at Ellis Park. Borel, 65, retired about a week later to care for his ailing wife, Debbie, a former Oaklawn racing official who died Jan. 1, 2015. K J's Nobility headlines the trainer's four-horse stable.
“Same thing,” Borel said, describing his daily routine. “Same work. A little bit harder because you're older. But at least I rest better. I lost a lot of weight. I weighed in the jocks room the other day. I weighed 175. When I left home, I weighed 192. That's good. I needed that. I was too heavy. My blood pressure was going up. I couldn't bend down any more. All I did was fish since Debbie died, and played with the grandkids. I needed to do something.”
Borel had planned on returning to Churchill Downs after the Oaklawn meeting ends May 4, but said he has scrapped that idea because he was unable to secure stalls on track.
“I don't know what I'm going to do,” Borel said. “I might just throw in the towel and wait until next October, November, try to find me three or four and then come back here. I can find something in October, November in Kentucky, at Keeneland and Churchill, and then they won't be in jail and I come here with two or three next winter. I like it over here. I like the people.”
Borel's last stakes victory came in the $50,000 King Cotton Stakes in 2010 at Oaklawn with Cosmic (out of champion and 1995 Oaklawn Apple Blossom winner Heavenly Prize).
Borel has 106 career Oaklawn victories, including eight stakes. He has started five horses at this year's meeting.
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