2022 Kentucky Derby Jockey Profile: Julien Leparoux
Who is Julien Leparoux?
Since the Eclipse Awards were created in 1971, only four jockeys have earned both the Outstanding Apprentice Jockey and Outstanding Jockey titles. The most recent to complete the double is Julien Leparoux, whose accomplished resume grows stronger with every passing year.
Born in France, the 38-year-old rider kicked off his career in 2005 and wasted absolutely no time rising to stardom. In 2006, Leparoux rode a staggering 403 winners to sit atop the North American jockey rankings, and the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey was an unsurprising reward.
Some apprentice jockeys lose momentum after becoming journeymen riders, but Leparoux never missed a beat. He picked up his first of seven Breeders’ Cup wins in 2007, added another in 2008, and won three more in 2009, the year Eclipse Award voters honored him with the overall award for Outstanding Jockey.
Leparoux has continued to ride with aplomb ever since, accumulating more than 2,800 victories and over $180 million in purse money while riding primarily on the Kentucky circuit. Though widely known for his success on turf, Leparoux also boasts a solid 18% win rate over dirt and synthetic tracks, including a 10-for-75 (13%) record riding 1 1/4 miles on dirt—the conditions of the coveted Kentucky Derby (G1).
Speaking of the Kentucky Derby, Leparoux is slated to ride Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Classic Causeway in the 2022 edition of the Run for the Roses. In preparation for handicapping the Kentucky Derby, let’s review Leparoux’s record riding on dirt at a handful of important tracks where Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races are held.
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Tampa Bay Downs
All stats from Jan. 1, 2017 through April 24, 2022. Generated by STATSMASTER, Powered by TrackMaster, an Equibase Company.
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Lifetime record stats compiled by Nazrana Dixon.
|Lifetime record in the Kentucky Derby:|
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Leparoux at Aqueduct
A single trip to Aqueduct in the fall of 2018 proved productive as Leparoux rationed the speed of front-running Blamed to win the Comely S. (G3) in well-measured fashion.
Leparoux at Churchill Downs
Unlike many jockeys who participate in the Kentucky Derby, Leparoux rides at Churchill Downs on a regular basis. He was the dominant jockey at Louisville’s legendary oval between 2006 and 2011, winning nine meet titles and a bevy of graded stakes led by the 2009 Humana Distaff (G1).
Since 2017, Leparoux has won at a respectable 17% rate over the Churchill Downs main track, which includes a handful of graded stakes wins. From 13 mounts in the Kentucky Derby, his best finish has been a troubled fourth aboard Classic Empire in 2017.
Leparoux at Fair Grounds
Leparoux’s 3-for-28 (11%) record over the Fair Grounds main track is modest, but he’s nabbed some significant wins along the way. In 2017, he rode Honorable Duty to a determined score in the Mineshaft H. (G3), and in 2020 he guided Enforceable from the back of the pack to upset the Lecomte S. (G3) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Also in 2020, Leparoux finished second in the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), New Orleans Classic (G2), and two divisions of the Risen Star S. (G2).
Leparoux at Gulfstream Park
Generally, Leparoux has enjoyed more success over the Gulfstream turf course than the main track, winning a bevy of graded stakes and significantly more purse money on the lawn. But his 11% strike rate on dirt isn’t bad for such a competitive circuit, and through the years Leparoux has won a handful of Gulfstream’s Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races. A perfectly timed rally carried Dialed In to victory over a strong field in the 2011 Florida Derby (G1), and Leparoux also guided Union Rags to an easy score in the 2012 Fountain of Youth S. (G2).
Leparoux at Keeneland
Just like at Churchill Downs, Leparoux has enjoyed strong success at Keeneland, where he’s been winning at a 15% clip over the main track. Leparoux has won 11 meet titles at Keeneland since 2006, including the 2019 fall meet, and he’s no stranger to success in Keeneland’s Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races.
Indeed, Leparoux is a two-time winner of the Blue Grass S. (G1), visiting the winner’s circle aboard the pace-tracking 31-1 longshot Irap (2017) and the stretch-running Java’s War (2013). Leparoux also won the 2016 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) aboard Classic Empire.
Leparoux at Oaklawn Park
Leparoux isn’t a regular presence at Oaklawn Park, riding just five races over the Arkansas oval since 2017. But he’s made the most of those limited opportunities, producing a perfectly timed rally to win the 2017 Arkansas Derby (G1) aboard Classic Empire.
Leparoux at Santa Anita
Leparoux rarely rides the Santa Anita main track, going 0-for-5 since 2017. But a lucrative victory falls just outside our data cutoff. At the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, Leparoux guided champion two-year-old Classic Empire to a tenacious victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Leparoux also enjoyed several big wins over Santa Anita’s short-lived synthetic main track, most notably sweeping the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Leparoux at Tampa Bay Downs
Since 2017, Leparoux has excelled over the Tampa turf course, going 10-for-37 (27%) while winning multiple editions of the Florida Oaks (G3). But his record on dirt isn’t as flashy—just 2-for-26 (8%), with a lone stakes success in the 2018 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Sophomore S.
Leparoux at Turfway Park
Leparoux has gone winless in two mounts at Turfway since 2017, though back in 2006-07, he won three meet titles at the Kentucky track. Indeed, as an apprentice in 2006, he won a record 167 races during the winter/spring meet at Turfway.