LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Calvin Borel has spent the last 25 years grinding out a living as a jockey by getting to the track early, staying late and taking whatever work he could get.
The day after arguably the biggest win of his career was no different.
Less than 24 hours after guiding Rachel Alexandra to a history-making win in the Preakness, Borel was back in the winner's circle at Churchill Downs, guiding Sun Button to victory in the fourth race under the twin spires.
"These are the horses that got me here," Borel said.
And they're the ones he'll keep riding even in the middle of the kind of historic run that has made the 42-year-old Borel the hottest jockey in the country.
So rather than take a well-deserved break following a hectic two weeks in which Borel won the Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness on Rachel Alexandra and pulled off an upset for the ages in the Derby aboard Mine That Bird, Borel hopped a plane from Baltimore to Louisville and headed straight to the track.
He's waited so long for a moment like this, he has no plans to slow down.
"I'm riding so good right now, it's unbelievable, it's scary," Borel said. "I'm riding good horses, that's why."
None of them better than the 3-year-old filly who became the first female in 85 years to win the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra held off Mine That Bird by a length to capture the second jewel of the Triple Crown, a victory Borel said was a lot harder than it looked.
Borel admitted Rachel Alexandra was bothered by the sandy dirt at Pimlico, making it difficult for her to truly get loose.
"I could never get her to level off," he said. "I even went a little faster than I had to just to try to get her to level off."
She never really did, not that it stopped her. Borel had no doubt he was on the best horse - male or female - as Rachel Alexandra took command at the top of the stretch and he never panicked even as Mine That Bird closed in the final yards.
The scary part for Borel? He's still pretty sure he hasn't seen the best of Rachel Alexandra yet.
"She won, but she's a lot better filly than she showed," he said.
The jockey is pretty good too. Borel said he's hopeful Rachel Alexandra can run in the Belmont on June 6, a win there would make Borel the first jockey to win a Triple Crown on different horses.
Racing's news superstar was back at Churchill Downs on Sunday afternoon after being shipped from Baltimore. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Rachel Alexandra will likely get a few days off before returning to the track.
Borel has no such plans. He made the TV rounds after winning the Derby aboard 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird. Expect the buzz to be even greater if he and Rachel Alexandra head to New York in a few weeks. Not that he minds.
"Me and (agent) Jerry (Hissam) been working hard for a long time, 19 years," Borel said. "We finally found some quality."