06/14/2012 2:49PM

Churchill Downs: Matz, Leparoux team with Colonial Flag

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Tom Keyser
Coup, with John Velazquez up, wins the Hilltop.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Last Saturday in New York, trainer Michael Matz and jockey Julien Leparoux were on opposing sides, after Leparoux was replaced as the regular jockey of Union Rags in the Belmont in favor of John Velazquez.

Leparoux still rode the race, aboard longshot Atigun, and did his best to steal the show, riding his mount to a surprising close third-place finish, falling just short of victorious Union Rags and runner-up Paynter.

Saturday evening in the Grade 3, $100,000 Regret on the Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill Downs, Matz and Leparoux are together again, teaming up with Colonial Flag, one of the favorites in the 11-filly race, along with stakes winner Coup and maiden winner Centre Court.

Leparoux has been the only jockey Colonial Flag has known in three races, and Matz said he had no reservations about using him, calling his replacement aboard Union Rags after two troubled trips “just one of those things that happen.”

“Her last two races rode her very well,” he said. “Julien is a good rider.”

Colonial Flag is a good 3-year-old turf filly, too. After difficult trip in her debut, in which she ran fifth, she returned to win a maiden race at Keeneland over Centre Court, and returned May 13 to win an allowance at 1 1/8 miles on turf at Belmont against older mares going the Regret’s distance.

A daughter of Pleasant Tap, she also has the top-class pedigree on her dam’s side. She is a half-sister to Shared Account, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

From what Graham Motion, trainer of Shared Account, has told Matz, they appear similar physically at this stage in their careers, leading Matz to hope Colonial Flag will improve with maturity, as Shared Account did, peaking last year at age 5.

A Motion-trained filly will be one Colonial Flag will have to beat Saturday, with that runner being Coup, a perfect-trip winner of the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico May 18 after stalking two dueling leaders.

Velazquez returns in the irons on Coup, the narrow 3-1 morning-line favorite, and this time will be trying to beat Matz.

Centre Court, despite having just a single win from four starts, will also attract her share of support, particularly among speed-figure handicappers, having twice run Beyer Speed Figures of 91 or higher, easily best in the field.