Calvin Borel a winner on Ellis Park's camel and ostrich day

Evansville Courier & PressJuly 27, 2013 

HENDERSON - Getting all of the hard, tough men out of the Ellis Park jockey room for more than their next turn in the saddle is easy.

Just trot out an unusual ride, like Saturday's camels and ostriches, and all those who aren't aboard one of those mounts will pile out around the finish line to watch those who are.

With four camels — Hey Boo ridden by Calvin Borel, Plunger Head with Brian Hernandez, Humpty Bumpus with Corey Lanerie and Wednesday ridden by Rafael Mojica Jr. — a dozen other jockeys beat them down the rail to be in place to watch the finish.

Jon Court was among those on the rail for the first exhibition, which followed the fifth race.

"You never know what they're going to do," he said. "Look, there's one sitting down inside the starting gate."

It was Wednesday, perhaps intimidated by the full desert gear Mojica Jr. was wearing along with a black fake mustache and goatee, that was attempting to sit out the race.

Still, Wednesday looked ready to run when the camels final broke from the gate for their 1/16th mile gallop. Only Wednesday broke wide and although it showed fine finishing speed in the Grade I One Hump or Two Invitational, there was no catching Hey Boo with Borel aboard.

Borel's mount hit a straight line down the track and won by two lengths over Wednesday as all the jockeys on the rail hooted and hollered them home.

"It's not quite like the Derbies," said Borel, who has won three Runs for the Roses, "But it is a whole lot of fun, And it's always better to win."

Court had a reason he prefers watching the novelty races now.

"I rode in one of these a while back on an afternoon I had a mount in a big money race later in the day," Court said. "My wife said 'What are you doing?' and I realized she was right.

"So I don't ride in them any more, but they are a lot of fun to watch."

The ostriches ran the well-received Grade I Feathered Friends Classic after Saturday's seventh race. This time John McKee finished first aboard Spinning Brewster, while Borel added a second aboard I Ate The Bones.

Mojica Jr. was unseated by Ostrich Dynasty, hurting just his pride.

"This is why we came out here for the first time today," said Jane Calloway, a young mother with a preschool boy in each hand. "The boys wanted to see the camels and the big birds race.

"But they really liked watching the horses run, too. We had a good time."

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