06/24/2010 11:00PM

Healthy Leparoux ready to return


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Boredom, more than pain, was the toughest part of the six-plus weeks Julien Leparoux had to sit out. So when he returns to action Thursday at Churchill Downs, it will not be soon enough.

"I will be ready to come to work Thursday," said Leparoux, the 2009 Eclipse Award-winning jockey. "Definitely ready."

Leparoux, 26, was cleared Tuesday by his physician to begin exercising horses, which he has been doing at Churchill since Wednesday morning. He suffered a compression fracture in a vertebra in a May 14 spill at Pimlico. Although Leparoux rode the next two days, including an 11th-place finish on Pleasant Prince in the Preakness, an injury was diagnosed, and he was ordered to heal before returning to the saddle.

"I feel great," he said. "I went home to France for a little while and then took a short vacation in the Bahamas. That part of it was good, but I was kind of bored at other times."

Leparoux will ride the final four-day stretch of the Churchill spring meet, which ends next Sunday, July 4, then remain in Louisville until he leaves for the Saratoga meet, which begins July 23.

"I will work here in the mornings and ship around for races on weekends until Saratoga," he said.

Leparoux has been a rising star since he rode his first North American race as an apprentice at Saratoga in 2005. He won three Breeders' Cup races last November and won the Eclipse for top jockey.

Three stakes on closing day

The 42-day spring meet should end on a good note, with three stakes and the possible return of Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, serving as highlights on the final weekend of racing.

Mine That Bird is eligible for a classified allowance Saturday, and his new trainer, D. Wayne Lukas, has said that $63,000 race is being considered as a prep toward the Aug. 7 Whitney at Saratoga.

Two Grade 3, $100,000 stakes also will be run Saturday: the Locust Grove, a filly-mare turf race expected to get Acoma and Keertana, and the Bashford Manor, a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds that is likely to have Lou Brissie, winner of the April 30 Kentucky Juvenile, as the favorite.

Entries for Saturday will be taken Wednesday.

The Grade 2, $175,000 Firecracker Handicap will anchor the closing-day card Sunday. A one-mile turf race, the Firecracker is expected to get Attempted Humor, Our Douglas, Tizdejavu, and Wise River.

Pure Clan back to Churchill

Pure Clan, runner-up in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, is scheduled to return to her Churchill barn this week after recovering from a bruised foot, trainer Bob Holthus said.

Holthus, who turned 76 on Thursday, said Pure Clan has been stabled in recent weeks at the Versailles, Ky., farm of her owner-breeder, Lewis Lakin.

"I'd like to make it back to the Breeders' Cup with her," Holthus said.

Pure Clan is a two-time Grade 1 winner with earnings of $1,987,498.

Westshore impressive

Westshore broke loose with the best effort of his career Thursday, when he romped to a 14 1/4-length victory here under Calvin Borel in the co-featured fourth race, a first-level allowance at 1 1/8 miles. Westshore, trained by Jimmy Baker, earned an 89 Beyer Speed Figure with his second career win.

Kyriana, with Freddie Lenclud up, won the other Thursday co-feature, a turf-sprint allowance for fillies and mares.

* Churchill officials presented large checks to several organizations between races Thursday. From its Kentucky Oaks Day fundraising efforts, the track gave $118,346 to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure and $30,000 to Horses and Hope. Churchill also equally divided its $70,000 proceeds from the inaugural Taste of Derby gala between two hunger relief organizations, the World Food Programme and Dare to Care.