French-born jockey Julien Leparoux became the 10th rider in Churchill Downs history to record 500 victories beneath the historic Twin Spires when Joseph Sutton’s Maan captured Sunday’s ninth race.
“It feels good, but it wasn’t really on my mind,” Leparoux said. “I try not to focus on the milestones and just take it one day at a time.”
Leparoux, who will turn 28 on July 15, took out his riding license in 2005 and began riding at Churchill Downs during that year’s Fall Meet. He recorded his first victory at the Louisville track on Nov. 26, 2005 aboard Three Steps Ahead. It was his only win of that meeting.
“My first win here is probably one of my favorites out of all 500,” Leparoux said. “The other top highlights are probably my two Grade I wins: the (Woodford Reserve) Turf Classic (aboard Einstein-BRZ) and the Humana (Distaff aboard Informed Decision).” Both of those victories, which account for two of Leparoux’s 33 stakes wins at Churchill Downs, occurred on the 2009 Kentucky Derby Day undercard.
Later on Sunday’s program, Leparoux notched victory number 501 aboard James B. Tafel LLC’s Prado Dash in the $62,603 featured allowance race.
Trained by Carl Nafzger, the 3-year-old son of El Prado-IRE covered the mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course in 1:35.59. The victory was worth $37,260 and increased Prado Dash’s earnings to $103,053 with a record of 2-3-2 from 10 starts.
The 5-2 second-choice in the field of 11, Prado Dash returned mutuels of $7.60, $4.20 and $3. Ashbrook Farm’s San Antone finished second by a neck and returned $9.20 and $8.60 with PEG LLC’s Versailles Road another 1 ¼-lengths back in third to return $2.80.
Racing continues Monday with an 11-race program to conclude the 38-day Spring Meet. The special Independence Day card will be highlighted by the 21st running of the Grade II, $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap at one mile on turf. Post time for the first race is 12:45 p.m. EDT and the Firecracker Handicap is scheduled for Race 10 at 5:25 p.m. There is no carryover in the Pick 6 or Super Hi-5, but both pools on Monday will feature mandatory payouts because it is closing day.
Leparoux enters closing day with 51-46 lead over Corey Lanerie in the jockey standings. He is seeking his eighth Churchill Downs riding title: 2006 Spring (87 wins), 2007 Spring (69 wins), 2007 Fall (27 wins), 2008 Fall (record 63 wins), 2009 Spring (62 wins), 2009 Fall (27 wins, tied with Calvin Borel) and 2010 Fall (28 wins).
There’s also a tight race for leading trainer. Nine-time leading trainer Steve Asmussen (Fall 2001, Spring 2004, Fall 2004, Spring 2007, Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010 and Fall 2010) will begin the day with a 18-16 lead over Eddie Kenneally and Ken McPeek. Richard and Karen Papiese’s Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc. has clinched the title for champion owners with eight wins, two more than Jay Em Ess Stable and Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
Top 10 Jockeys in Races Won at Churchill Downs (through Sunday, July 3)
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 5, 2012. The track’s 2011 Spring Meet opened April 30 and continues through July 4. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record seven times and the event will return to the track for its next renewal on Nov. 4-5, 2011. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.
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