Sunday, June 21, 2009

Musical saddles: Leparoux's winning day in VA

It ended up being a winning day in Virginia for jockey Julien Leparoux Saturday, but not on the horses he'd expected.

I'd commented late in the week about Julien Leparoux's schedule of five rides on Colonial Turf Cup Day at Colonial Downs. It was of interest to me that Leparoux had secured five mounts in a day at the New Kent track, while Calvin Borel, rider of Kentucky Derby champion Mine That Bird, spent a week in New York trying to get mounts and familiarize himself with Big Sandy before the June 6 Belmont Stakes, and couldn't get on a single horse.

Now it merits reviewing Leparoux's day in Virginia, which included two stakes wins, one graded, and a third-place finish in a Grade 2 race -- only one of them on a horse for which he was named the rider when entries were drawn.

The French-born rider's first mount was to have been in the card's first race, a $7,500 claimer for fillies and mares going short on the grass. But he took off of the 2/1 favorite, Perfect Pet, and she came home third under Jorge Vargas, who took the pickup mount for trainer Tim Salzman.

Leparoux stayed aboard White Pearl for trainer Leigh Delacour in Race 4, a first-level allowance, and he took the 2/1 favorite to the front out of the gate. But she came home seventh, earning $288.

The jockey's first score came in Race 9, but not on the horse to which he was booked. A slew of scratches slashed the 14-horse field for the $50,000 Buckland Stakes down to just four fillies and mares. Leparoux had been scheduled to ride Kosmo's Buddy for Salzman in the race, but she was one of the 10 to be scratched. He ended up absconding with James Lopez's seat aboard Twiceasbeautiful -- who had been 30/1 on the morning line for trainer Michelle Sharp and breeder/owner Linda S. Rosenblatt -- and he won the race with her, a race in which none of the horses remaining to run had been at odds lower than 10/1 when the field was drawn.

Leparoux switched horses and won again in the following race, the All Along S.-G3 for fillies and mares going 9 furlongs on the lawn. He was booked to ride the Florida-based Empire Maker filly Icon Project, but she had been cross-entered by trainer Marty Wolfson into Belmont's New York S.-G2 on Saturday, where she traveled to win the sloppy race once it was taken off the turf; Jose Valdivia Jr. picked up that mount at Belmont.

In Icon Project's absence, Leparoux jumped back aboard Winter View for trainer Jonathan Sheppard and George Strawbridge's Augustin Stable, the breeders and owners. Leparoux piloted the mare to her first stakes win in the Bewitch S.-G3 at Keeneland on April 23. Edgar Prado had been listed as her rider when entries were drawn for the All Along (and she was 6/1), but he ended up aboard 20/1 Julia Tuttle and came home fifth. Winter View was sent off at around 4/1 odds and Leparoux took her from ninth (last), to first by a head on the wire over Tejida and Corey Nakatani for $86,400-worth of the race's 150,000 marbles.

Leparoux's final stakes ride wasn't as successful, but he still came home third beaten less than two lengths in the Colonial Turf Cup-G3 aboard Frank Alexander-trainee Lime Rickey, the only stakes horse to which Leparoux was booked, that he eventually rode on Saturday.

And, when the music stopped, Leparoux was on his way back to Kentucky, where he's scheduled to take nine mounts on a 10-race card at Churchill today.


  1. Is that legal? Isn't the betting public suposed to know jockey changes? We thought all along that Perfect Pet was being ridden by Julian but I never remember hearing or seeing any change.

  2. I don't know whether the change was announced at the track or anywhere else. I was at work and not watching the race live.

    Certainly a jockey change must be revealed to the bettors -- I would think.

    I just know who was credited with the ride on the chart, and it was Jorge Vargas.


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