Eclipse Award Winners Leparoux, Asmussen Head Fall Meet Stars

Oct 29, 2010 John Asher

A jockey colony headed by 2009 Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux and three-time Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) winner Calvin Borel and a roster of trainers led by Steve Asmussen, America’s Eclipse Award top trainer of 2008 and 2009, should ensure that the human star power is equal to the equine variety when Churchill Downs opens its 121st Fall Meet on Sunday, Oct. 31.

The 21-day meet runs through Sunday, Nov. 28 and includes a record seventh visit by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to Churchill Downs on Friday, Nov. 5 and Saturday, Nov. 6.  It is the first stop by the year-end Thoroughbred racing championships since it adopted a two-day format and expanded its offerings to 14 races.  It also will be the first of back-to-back visits to the home of the Kentucky Derby by the Breeders’ Cup, which will return to Churchill Downs in 2011.

Leparoux, a 27-year-old native of Senlis, France, will bid for his seventh Churchill Downs riding crown.  An injury kept him on the sidelines for most of the 2010 Spring Meet, but Leparoux will shoot for his fourth consecutive fall title in the meet that opens Sunday.  He has won three of the last four Fall Meet titles outright and shared the other with Borel.

The popular Borel took advantage of Leparoux’s absence in the spring to score 52 victories – including his third Kentucky Derby victory aboard WinStar Farm homebred Super Saver – to earn his first spring riding crown.  Borel, who has won or shared three Fall Meet titles, earned his 1,000th Churchill Downs victory during the 2010 spring session and ranks second to all-time leader Pat Day in career wins beneath the Twin Spires.

Veteran riding stars Robby Albarado, Shaun Bridgmohan, Corey Lanerie, Miguel Mena, Jamie Theriot and Jon Court also return to the talent-laden jockey colony, as does rising star Freddie Lenclud, the leading apprentice jockey of the 2010 Spring Meet.

New faces among riders at Churchill Downs include Michael Baze, a runaway winner of leading jockey honors at this year’s Arlington Park meet, and Rosemary Homeister Jr., who moves north from her fall base at Florida’s Calder Race Course.  The 23-year-old Baze, a native of Renton, Wash., is a cousin to all-time racing win leader Russell Baze and Southern California-based Tyler Baze.  The 38-year-old Homeister, whose mother and father both spent time in the saddle as jockeys, rode in the 2003 Kentucky Derby aboard Supah Blitz and finished 13th to the victorious Funny Cide.

Asmussen, who guided Curlin (2007, 2008) and Rachel Alexandra (2009) to the last three Eclipse Awards that honored America’s Horse of the Year, leads U.S. trainers in victories in 2010.  He won the Spring Meet training crown – his third consecutive training title at Churchill Downs and his eighth overall.  The native of South Dakota and is rapidly climbing the all-time victory list at Churchill Downs and currently ranks fifth with 378 wins heading into Sunday’s Fall Meet opener.

The roll call of trainers stabled at Churchill Downs and its Trackside Louisville training center again includes Hall of Fame conditioners Bill Mott, D. Wayne Lukas, Nick Zito and Carl Nafzger.  Mott is the track’s all-time win leader with 633 victories.  Louisville native Dale Romans, who has earned 507 wins at Churchill Downs to rank second in career victories at his hometown track, is back after finishing second to Asmussen in the spring race by a margin of 24-19.

A new face in the training ranks who could have an immediate impact include Eric Guillot, whose stable includes Acorn (GI) winner and Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (GI) contender Champagne d’Oro.

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