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Borel getting celebrity treatment as Belmont nears

Calvin Borel spends most mornings working out thoroughbreds and mucking stalls, not hanging out with the lords of high finance. Manhattan's moneychangers made the Cajun jockey feel at home Thursday, when he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

Borel is having an infinitely better year than the brokers, who chanted, "Calvin! Calvin!'' while he grinned broadly. The farm boy raised in the boondocks of Catahoula, La., felt the love in the concrete canyon's house of greed.

"It was awesome, made me feel at home,'' Borel said. "Kind of looked like my family. It looked like they knew what I was doing.'''

Betting "Bo-rail'' this spring would have eased fears about your stock portfolio. Besides winning the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird and the Preakness on the filly Rachel Alexandra, Borel went on a 14-for-25 tear at Churchill Downs. His sister-in-law Diane Borel attended the Derby and put $5 across the board on 50-1 shot Mine That Bird. Profit: $442.50. "If I'd put a hundred across the board,'' she said, "we'd be going to New York this week.'''

She'll be rooting from Lafayette, La., Saturday, when Borel tries to become the first to sweep the Triple Crown on different horses. With Rachel Alexandra skipping the Belmont, Borel has reunited with trainer Chip Woolley's gelding, and he's guaranteeing a Calvin Crown.

"Nobody ever did it, so I'd like to do it,'' he said. "I'd like to do it for Chip. He's a little guy; I'm a little guy. He'll win, I'm telling you. I see him running a Derby race, with the same style.'''

Mine That Bird was introduced to Belmont Park at 7 a.m. Thursday, when he galloped on a sealed, sloppy track. "He gets over it so easy,''' Woolley said. "That's what I was hoping for.''

Jockey agent Jerry Hissam estimates Borel has done 175 interviews since the Derby. Borel's fiancée, Lisa Funk, has shepherded him through the media madness that includes tonight's "Late Show With David Letterman.'''

"Calvin is the star of the show,'' she said. "It's a little draining, but he's handling it pretty well even though he's not in his comfort zone, which is on the back of a horse.'''

After an event Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, he thought he was done with Q. and A. for the day. "No, we have to do CNN,'' Funk said. "Just one more, baby.'''

The Letterman show, taped Monday, could be must-see TV. Borel said the other guests were " Paris Hilton and somebody else.'' (It was comedian Steven Wright.) Calvin thought he did much better than Paris, and Lisa said Dave knew very little about Calvin. She said she kept correcting her man last week for saying, "When do we meet Jay Letterman?'' Lisa said she'd TiVo it "because we never get a chance to stay up that late.'''

Their hotel is near Central Park, where Lisa planned to hang out Friday. "Hopefully, we can relax and catch our breath,''' she said. "Maybe run in the park, take a carriage ride, anything, just as long as it's not racing-related.'''

Rain should prevent outdoor fun, and quiet time must wait until after Calvin does "Good Morning America'' with Sam Champion. At least it's not until 8 o'clock, about four hours later than the hardest-working man in racing usually gets up.


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