Fistfight ensues as Breeders' Cup opens
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Jockey Calvin Borel leaned toward Javier Castellano, pointed, and just like that, the winner's circle at the Breeders' Cup morphed into a boxing ring.
Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Borel and Castellano tussled at Churchill Downs just moments after tangling during the $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon in an ugly, chaotic scene 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 hallowed 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 Castellano's face.
The 5-foot-1, 110-pound Castellano then took a swing at Borel, who is four 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.
In an interview with ESPN as he rode out for the Juvenile Fillies race, Borel said he and Castellano had patched things up.
"It's over. It's all good," Borel said as he was interviewed aboard Tell A Kelly. "We talked."
Kentucky racing officials will announce Sunday whether to penalize the jockeys. Officials met with Borel, Castellano and Garcia on Saturday to review the race and the ensuing chaos.
Kentucky chief state steward John Veitch said if either jockey is found 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.
Borel declined numerous requests to speak to reporters. His agent, Jerry Hissam, said his client "just wants to ride."
"I realize many people hold me in high esteem, and I apologize for publicly losing my cool," Borel said in the statement, which was issued by his wife, Lisa Borel. "It's unfortunate that it happened on national TV and at such a prestigious event as the Breeders' Cup."
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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