06/21/2011 4:37PM

Churchill Downs: Leparoux, Lanerie square off in allowance sprint

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With just two weeks of racing remaining at the Churchill Downs meet entering Thursday’s card, jockeys Corey Lanerie and Julien Leparoux are deadlocked in competition for leading rider, with each having 37 wins, 9 more than third-place Shaun Bridgmohan.

So it is fitting that the duo could very well end up dueling aboard their mounts in featured eighth race Thursday at Churchill, a $62,100 first-level allowance in which Leparoux is on 3-1 morning-line favorite Champagne Run and Lanerie on 5-1 third-choice Manx Miss.

Both fillies rate as contenders in the race, a six-furlong dash on the dirt, though both still have things to prove. Champagne Run, coming off a maiden victory May 28, has never raced against winners, and Manx Miss has yet to distinguish herself on dirt, having made the bulk of her starts on Polytrack.

Champagne Run has established Churchill Downs form, and that could give her and Leparoux the advantage, particularly in light of the draw. She landed in post 10 of 11, a seemingly perfect starting position for her stalking style, which should lead to a favorable trip in the clear. Her maiden win also came at the six furlongs.

Trainer Steve Asmussen trains Champagne Run, a 3-year-old daughter of More Than Ready, for Vinery Stables LLC.

Trained by Eddie Kenneally, Manx Miss appears to have taken the worst of the draw by landing on the rail. She also drew the fence in her only prior start at Churchill Downs, which came on May 12. That race came at a mile and marked her first start on dirt.

Away poorly, she grew keen going down the backstretch, and after taking dirt in her face behind horses, offered little response upon coming into the stretch. She finished fifth, beaten 12 3/4 lengths.

With the cut back in distance to a sprint, Manx Miss may settle kinder and run a race more representative of her ability.

Last year, while based at Woodbine, Manx Miss twice hit the board in first-level allowances on the Polytrack there for her trainer at the time, Carolyn Costigan. She is bred for dirt, being by El Corredor out of Final Legacy, a Boston Harbor mare who is a half-sister to Storm Cat.

In a jockey swap, Lanerie takes over the mount from Leparoux on Manx Miss, while Leparoux takes the mount on Champagne Run from Lanerie.