Fresh off of collecting his 2,000th career win on Wednesday at Churchill Downs, jockey Julien Leparoux will depart for California upon the conclusion of Thursday’s local racing action to compete in his ninth Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s the world championships,” said Leparoux, who has five Breeders’ Cup mounts over the two days. “Everyone in the world comes and it’s a fun event. I remember watching it as a kid and it’s something that is just really fun and cool to be a part of now.”
Leparoux has won five Breeders’ Cup races in his career: Nownownow (2007 Juvenile Turf), champion Forever Together (2008 Filly & Mare Turf), Furthest Land (2009 Dirt Mile), champion Informed Decision (2009 Filly & Mare Sprint) and champion She Be Wild (2009 Juvenile Fillies).
His three-peat at Santa Anita in 2009 won him the Bill Shoemaker Award as the top jockey at that year’s Breeders’ Cup.
“Obviously, 2009 was my best year,” Leparoux said. “That was a year where we went into it with a lot of good shots and everything sort of came together. We won three so that was definitely my best memory.”
Leparoux’s first Breeders’ Cup mount of 2014 will be in the first race of the Breeders’ Cup, Friday’s Juvenile Turf (GI) aboard Donegal Racing’s Danny Boy for trainer Dale Romans. Leparoux’s first mount on Danny Boy came Oct. 5 in the Bourbon (GIII) at Keeneland where he finished second, beaten a half-length.
“He ran very well at Keeneland,” Leparoux said. “That was the first time on him for me and he closed well. He was still a little green and tried to lay on horses a little bit but the great thing is that now I know him a little bit better. The tough part is the post; we drew the far outside so that’s something that can be very difficult to overcome but I expect him to run well anyway.”
In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI), also on Friday, Leparoux will ride Three Chimneys Farm’s Lady Zuzu for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas. This will be Leparoux’s first mount on the 2-year-old filly who is a daughter of Dynaformer.
“She was impressive at Keeneland and D. Wayne Lukas just keeps telling me how good she is and how great she’s been doing so I’m excited about her,” Leparoux said.
On Saturday, Leparoux will get the call in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (GI) on Ashbrook Farm’s Southern Honey, whom Leparoux has ridden in seven of her eight starts. The most impressive outing for the 3-year-old filly came in the May 26 Winning Colors (GIII) at Churchill Downs, where she faced and defeated older mares for the first time. Southern Honey followed that with a ninth-place effort in the Aug. 2 Test (GI) at Saratoga, and most recently finished third and second in her last two starts, both Grade II events.
“There were no real excuses for her in the Test,” Leparoux said. “She was making some noise early in the race, and I think that’s part of the reason why she didn’t run any good that day. But she was so big in the earlier part of this year; she beat older mares here at Churchill and she’s bounced back from that Test race with two solid efforts. If she can come back and duplicate what she was doing earlier in the year I think she can be a great filly. But I guess it ultimately depends on how she’s doing on Saturday.”
In Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI), Leparoux will ride Lael Stables’ Ageless, who was listed as an “also eligible” contender when the initial entries were released. She made the field of 14 after Free as a Bird was scratched from the race.
“We’re excited that she got in,” Leparoux said. “This is a filly that has run great all year. I think the worst she’s finished this year is third. So really she’s been doing all we’ve asked of her and she’s been doing great. The trainer (Arnaud Delacour) tells me she hasn’t missed a beat and I think she’s going to like this race going six-and-a-half furlongs.”
Ageless will have to break from the far outside in post position 14, which Leparoux does not mind.
“I think the outside is probably more preferable than the inside in her race because you are going right in the first part of the race (down Santa Anita’s hillside turf course) so it’s more like being on the inside when you draw the outside,” Leparoux said.
Finally, Leparoux will be on Shadwell Stable’s Sayaad for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI). Leparoux’s only mount on Sayaad came in his last start where he finished third beaten 1 ¼ lengths in the Oct. 4 Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland. He will break from post position 11 in the Mile with morning line odds of 30-1.
“All year, even before the Shadwell Mile, he’s been running decent races,” Leparoux said. “The only one I think he won this year was going seven eighths, but he’s been running good races against very good horses. I don’t think 30-1 is that big of a deal, I mean this is one of the toughest races in the whole Breeders’ Cup so we’ll see. I’ve only ridden him once but from that start and what I’ve seen it seems like he gives everything every race so we’ll see.”
ENCHANTING LISA TO MAKE SECOND DIRT START, THIS TIME VERSUS GRADED COMPANY IN CHILUKKI
Fresh off an allowance win in her debut dirt start at Keeneland, Mort Fink’s Enchanting Lisa will give the dirt another try in Saturday’s $200,000-added Chilukki (GII) at Churchill Downs.
The half-sister to two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan and multiple graded-stakes winner Successful Dan will be facing stiffer competition Saturday, but trainer Charlie LoPresti is optimistic about the move to dirt, after making her first seven starts on either synthetic or grass surfaces.
“When we went to Saratoga with her, she trained really well on the dirt,” LoPresti said. “Jose Lezcano wanted me to run her on the dirt after he breezed her but we ended up going to the grass race because we thought it might be a little easier. So she finished second in that turf race to a nice filly of Jonathan Sheppard’s (Chat). After that Lezcano said, ‘Next time you run this filly run her seven eighths or a mile on the dirt and they won’t be able to catch her.’ So we gave it a try at Keeneland and it ended up working because we won. Rosie Napravnik rode her at Keeneland and after the race she said, ‘I guess your jock was right because I wouldn’t ever run her on anything but dirt again.’
“Saturday is a little bit of an ambitious spot. I wish it was maybe a Grade III. She’s 10-1, which is probably about right on her, but if she hits the board it’s going to really increase her value.”
LoPresti compared her to Successful Dan more than Wise Dan because of her newly discovered dirt ability.
“She reminds me more of Successful Dan than she does Wise Dan,” LoPresti said. “It’s mainly been because of the way she’s been training on the dirt and the way she’s looked on the dirt. But we’re excited for Saturday and we’ll see what happens.”
Enchanting Lisa will break from post position nine in the 10-horse field for the Chilukki, a one-mile dirt contest for fillies and mares that goes as the ninth of 10 races on Saturday’s card with an approximate post time of 7:25 p.m. ET.
ASMUSSEN BARN SEEKING SUCCESS WITH PAIR OF STAKES SPRINTERS
Trainer Steve Asmussen will start a pair of stakes runners at Churchill Downs this weekend, beginning with Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Speedinthruthecity on Friday in the $58,000-added Dream Supreme and culminating with Mike McCarty’s Lemon Drop Dream in Saturday’s $58,000-added Bet on Sunshine.
Both sprinters are coming out of graded stakes performances at Keeneland where Speedinthruthecity finished fourth in the Oct. 4 Thoroughbred Club of America (Grade II) and Lemon Drop Dream finished fourth in the Oct. 3 Phoenix (GIII).
Asmussen assistant Galen Prewitt said Thursday morning that Speedinthruthecity might not have been at her best in the Thoroughbred Club of America, and that he was looking for a big performance from her in the Dream Supreme.
“I know she finished fourth only beaten four lengths but I still think she may have been a little off that day,” Prewitt said. “She came out of the race in good shape though and has been doing well since. I expect her to run better here at her home track on Friday. She’s taking a drop in class and I think this race will set up nicely for her.”
The 4-year-old daughter of City Zip will break from the far outside in post position nine with Ricardo Santana Jr. getting the call. She has been made the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Friday’s six-furlong contest that will go as the eighth of 10 races with an approximate post time of 5:45 p.m.
Prewitt also said that he was happy to draw the inside in post one with Lemon Drop Dream, who will be ridden by Alan Garcia.
“We were happy to get the one-hole with Lemon Drop Dream,” Prewitt said. “He usually runs well when he can get to the lead early and on the rail so I think the race should set up perfectly for him on Saturday.”
Lemon Drop Dream has been made the 7-2 co-second choice for the Bet on Sunshine, which will be the seventh of 10 races with an approximate post of 6:05 p.m.