Jockey Leparoux brings home 7 winners at Churchill
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- At one point during Julien Leparoux's record-tying day, a rider approached him in the jockey's room at Churchill Downs and made a simple request.
"Someone said, 'You going to let one of us win one today?'" Leparoux said Tuesday with a sheepish grin.
The answer: not really.
The 25-year-old Frenchman tied Hall of Famer Pat Day's track record with seven wins on one card, narrowly missing a chance to make the record his own when 3-year-old gelding Sinister came up just short in the final race of the day.
Leparoux, however, was hardly complaining after the biggest day of his young career allowed him to equal a record Day set on June 20, 1984.
"Seven-in-one days is fantastic," Leparoux said. "I just got lucky. I had good horses and a lot of luck. It was good."
Was it ever.
Riding a mix of favorites and longshots on a cold, dreary day at the home of the Kentucky Derby, Leparoux proved just how far he's come since beginning his career as an apprentice three years ago. He started the day with a win aboard Diva's Gold and just kept rolling. Wins on Yikes, Troutdale, Gerivello and Variant followed.
Leparoux took a well-deserved break in the sixth race, but came right back with trips to the Winners' Circle on Majestic Feline and Runaway West to make it 7-for-7.
Even as the wins kept piling up, Leparoux said there was no silent treatment in the jockey's room the way there is in baseball when a pitcher is working on a no-hitter.
But even after his streak ended with an eighth-place finish in the ninth race on Rocketinthegate, Leparoux knew this wasn't just an ordinary day at work. So did the fans and the staff at one of horse racing's most iconic tracks.
Several staff members stopped to shake Leparoux's hand as he walked into the paddock for the 10th race and a fan or two wished him luck as he rode out onto the track for the last race of the day. Sinister gave it a go, closing fast in the 6½ furlong race before finishing a couple of lengths back.
It was one of the few times during the day that Leparoux finished with mud on his goggles. He looked a little weary as he slipped the saddle cloth off of Sinister and headed back toward the warmth of the jockey's room.
"I'm not going to tell you it was the most beautiful day out there," Leparoux said, his black-and-red silks and white riding pants caked with muck. "It would have been nice if it was 75 and sunny out."
It wasn't, but it didn't matter to the native of Chantilly, France. Three years after winning just one mount during his first meet at Churchill Downs, he's on track to pick up his fourth meet title in the last two years. Leparoux now has 31 wins during the track's Fall Meet. Robby Albarado is in second with 19 victories.
"Three years ago I was an apprentice and I would have been happy if I won 15 races a year," Leparoux said. "Obviously I get more chances now than I used to. This is a dream come true for me."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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