10/05/2012 12:32PM

Leparoux confirms move to Southern California circuit

Coady Photography
Julien Leparoux will move to the Southern California circuit at the end of the month.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux confirmed widespread speculation Friday that he will move his tack to the Southern California circuit at month’s end.

Leparoux, 29, will be riding throughout the 17-day fall meet at Keeneland, where he has won or tied for leading rider at 8 of the last 13 meets, including the last four. He said the move to California coincides with his Dec. 10 marriage to Shea Mitchell, the daughter of California training veteran Mike Mitchell, who has been experiencing health problems after undergoing major surgery this summer for a brain tumor.

“My personal life is the main reason I am moving to California,” Leparoux said.

Leparoux will have a new agent in Joe Ferrer, who will continue to work for Rafael Bejarano.

A native of France, Leparoux announced earlier this year that he was making a permanent circuit of Gulfstream Park in the winter and New York at all other times of the year, with the move becoming effective in May. He met with moderate results during those first few months, winning with 11 of 104 mounts at the spring Belmont Park meet and 23 of 193 at Saratoga.

Leparoux had been based mostly in Kentucky during a career that began in 2005. He won an Eclipse for top apprentice in 2006 and for top jockey in 2009.

Leparoux briefly tried the Southern California circuit, riding the 2006-07 winter meet at Santa Anita and winning with 5 of 49 mounts. One of his career highlights, however, came at Santa Anita during the 2009 Breeders’ Cup, when he won three races to earn the Bill Shoemaker Award.

Steve Bass, Leparoux’s agent for the last seven years, said he was proud of what they accomplished together.

“We won five Breeders’ Cups, two Eclipses, and 21 riding titles in Kentucky,” said Bass, who will work for Leandro Goncalves at Keeneland and Churchill Downs the next two months.