04/22/2006 11:00PM

Lady of Venice takes Appalachian

Pat Lang
Julien Leparoux guides Lady of Venice to a 2 1/4-length victory Sunday in the $109,100 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Apprentice Julien Leparoux, who leads the Keeneland rider standings with just three of 15 days remaining in the spring meet, posted his second stakes victory of the meet when guiding Lady of Venice to a 2 1/4-length victory Sunday in the $109,100 .

In a field reduced by scratches from nine to five starters, Lady of Venice, a French import trained by Patrick Biancone, surged past front-running Saoirse Cat in the final furlong in capturing her North American debut. The winner returned $5.20 after finishing a mile in 1:35.85 over firm turf.

May Night rallied for second, three-quarters of a length before J'ray, the 6-5 favorite.

Lady of Venice "was very relaxed, and when I asked her she was there," said Leparoux, who leads Shaun Bridgmohan and the injured John Velazquez by a four-win margin (16-12) heading into Wednesday action at Keeneland. According to track records, no one in the 70-year history of Keeneland has won a riding title while an apprentice the entire meet. (At the 1966 spring meet, leading rider Earlie Fires lost his apprenticeship during the meet.)

Leparoux also won the April 9 Lafayette Stakes aboard Likely, also trained by Biancone.

Lady of Venice, owned by Martin Schwartz, appears headed for more demanding races within the 3-year-old filly turf division. "I think she's going to be a very good filly," said Biancone.