In Leparoux’s short seven-year riding career, he has amassed a resume of accomplishments one might expect to find from a thirty-year veteran rider including five Breeders’ Cup wins, numerous Grade 1 stakes victories, and countless riding titles. However, the Kentucky Derby is one victory that continues to elude the Eclipse Award winning jockey. Saturday he’ll be aboard Union Rags, the second choice on the morning line, as the colt breaks from post position four in the Kentucky Derby.
“I think it’ll be fine,” said Leparoux of his post position. “On the outside we’ve got two speed horses [Take Charge Indy, post 3, and Bodemeister, post 6], the main two speed horses, outside of us. I think we’ll be okay. We just have to break good and see how we come out from the gate.”
Leparoux, who rode Dialed In, the post time favorite, to an eighth place finish in last year’s Kentucky Derby, hopes Union Rags will be his ticket to a Derby victory.
“He’s definitely my best mount that I’ve had for the Derby, so it’s the best shot I have,” said Leparoux. When asked if he thought his chances with Union Rags were better than with Dialed In last year, Leparoux responded affirmatively. “I hope we can get the win and we definitely have a great shot and we just need some luck and that’s it.”
After the Derby, Leparoux will move his tack and his home to New York. Leparoux has resided in Kentucky and has been a staple at the Keeneland and Churchill Downs meets since emigrating from France seven years ago.
“Just for the business, I have to go there and I’m very excited about the move to New York, but I definitely will miss Kentucky too.”
Leparoux’s become a jockey that everyday fans seek out when visiting the track, so he’ll be missed by the Lexington and Louisville locals.
“I’ll definitely be back and forth,” said Leparoux. “Back for stakes races, probably mainly in Keeneland and just at Churchill for the week of the Derby. Hopefully I can be back as much as I can. I love Kentucky.”
One might think Leparoux would relax after a hectic Derby weekend, but he’ll be back with a charity event Derby night before he takes time for himself.
“After the Derby we have a charity event for the disabled jockeys,” said Leparoux. “I’m going to go to that and then win or lose, I’m just going to enjoy myself and be with my family. I’ve got my fiancée, my mom came from France, my future mother-in-law came from California, so spending time with them is good."
Photo: Courtesy JulienLeparoux.com