We recently sat down for a little one-on-one time with the very busy Julien Leparoux. Leparoux is not only riding for Michael Matz in this weekend’s big races, he’s the sponsored jockey of beer maker Stella Artois and an active supporter of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Stella Artois recently became the official beer sponsor of Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby.
“They’re sponsoring the Kentucky Derby this year, their first year, so for them it’s very special,” said Leparoux of the Stella Artois sponsorship. “They are very excited about the weekend, the week. It’s nice to have a new sponsor in the game and they really enjoy the races so far.”
Leparoux was one of several jockeys-turned-bartenders at the recent Jocktails charity event which sought to raise funds and awareness for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
“I try to promote it [Stella Artois] outside the racetrack, so yesterday I did a charity event for the disabled jockeys,” said Leparoux from under his Stella Artois baseball cap.
Leparoux will take the Michael Matz trained filly And Why Not to the starting gate for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks and will be in the irons as Union Rags attempts to give Matz his second Kentucky Derby win.
And Why Not comes into the Kentucky Oaks off a seventh place finish in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks. The race was the Street Cry filly’s first start of the year. Earlier this week, And Why Not turned in a bullet work, going four furlongs in a sharp :46.40 in her only work over the Churchill Downs track.
“And Why Not, she loves the track,” said Leparoux. “She’s been walking very good over it. Last time she ran very bad at Gulfstream, but she probably didn’t really like that track too much and it was her first race back. First race for the year, so hopefully we can erase that race last time and she’ll run better this time. I can tell she loves the track, so we’ll come running at the end.”