05/04/2006 11:00PM

Leparoux and Stream Cat victorious in Crown Royal

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Julien Leparoux still is an apprentice jockey, which means he hasn't watched as many races as some of the grizzled veteran riders on this circuit. But as the field for the Crown Royal American Turf turned down the Churchill Downs backstretch, Leparoux could see all five of his rivals from his seat aboard Stream Cat, and he knew he was watching something good. Gaelic Storm had taken the lead out of the gate, with favored Go Between and Giant Basil stalking a moderate pace, but coming off the first turn, there was a headstrong Tahoe Warrior surging up three wide, turning a slow pace quicker, and changing the entire shape of the race.

"Everybody wanted the lead," said the French-born Leparoux in his halting English. "I just sat on him and waited."

When the time was right, Leparoux cut Stream Cat loose, and with a big stretch surge he wore down Go Between to win the $114,300 Crown Royal by a neck. It was the second turf-stakes victory of the day for Leparoux and his most important client, trainer Partrick Biancone; the pair earlier won the Aegon Turf Sprint with Man of Illusion.

Fourth choice at odds of 4-1, Stream Cat paid $10.20 to win, and ran one and one-sixteenth miles in 1:42.27 on a firm turf course. Gaelic Storm finished a well-beaten third.

Stream Cat was making his first start since he finished eighth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and subsequently had surgery to remove a bone chip in his right knee. This also marked Stream Cat's first grass race since his second career start last September at Saratoga, and Stream Cat, while decent on dirt, appears much better on turf, which is where he'll stay this summer. Biancone said he planned to point Stream Cat to the two $1 million 3-year-old grass races at Colonial Downs, the first of which is the Colonial Turf Cup on June 24, the second the July 15 Virginia Derby.