10/29/2010 4:07PM

Leparoux going into Churchill meet filled with confidence


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Barring some sort of unprecedented coup in the Breeders’ Cup, Julien Leparoux won’t repeat as the Eclipse champion jockey. The 27-year-old Frenchman was honored last year with that ultimate tribute, but a number of factors have conspired against him in keeping the 2010 Eclipse from being in close reach.

But that’s okay. Leparoux seems as happy as ever, especially with the way things have been going in recent weeks. He has been as dominant as ever in winning a Keene­land riding title for the fifth time, and as the 21-day Churchill Downs fall meet commences Sunday, he is looking straight down the barrel of another outstanding month in Kentucky, which he has called home for nearly five years now.

“Life is good,” Leparoux said one recent morning. “We came to Keeneland with strong business and worked hard. The momentum is there for the Breeders’ Cup and for the Churchill meet.”

Into Friday at Keeneland, Leparoux had ridden 140 winners this year, with his mounts earning more than $8.35 million, good for eighth in the all-important money rankings. He has virtually no chance of catching the leaders in that category, Ramon Dominguez and John Velazquez, both of whom were closing in on the $14 million milestone this weekend, but with confirmed mounts in 12 of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races, Leparoux might very well be making some major late-season noise.

In fact, the last year that Leparoux did not win a Breeders’ Cup event was 2006, when the event was at Churchill and Leparoux, the Eclipse-winning apprentice that year, was a newly turned journeyman. He won the inaugural Juvenile Turf aboard Nownownow at Monmouth Park in 2007, the Filly and Mare Turf on Forever Together at Santa Anita in 2008, and then earned the coveted Bill Shoemaker Award last year at Santa Anita by winning three BC events aboard She Be Wild, Informed Decision, and Furthest Land.

A number of his BC dozen for 2010 look quite live, including Informed Decision in the Filly and Mare Sprint, Kathmanblu in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Silver Timber in the Turf Sprint, and Al Khali in the Turf.

“We’ve got some very good shots, it looks like,” said Leparoux.

A spill on the May 14 Preakness eve at Pimlico kept Leparoux out of action with a fractured vertebra for about six weeks afterward, and while he was laid up and bored, he contemplated what lay in store for the rest of the year. He wanted to regain a foothold at Saratoga, and did, being the fourth-leading rider there. He then spent most of September at Belmont before he and his agent, Steve Bass, returned to Kentucky with condition books loaded with calls.

Two years ago, on Veteran’s Day at Churchill, Leparoux rode seven winners on the card, tying a 24-year-old record set by the legendary Pat Day. That sensational feat, along with the six Churchill riding titles he already has won or shared, make Leparoux one of the all-time greats here, but considering his youth and ambition, it seems there could be a whole lot more in store.

“I’m very excited about the Breeders’ Cup and the rest of the meet,” he said.

Lenclud snaps winless streak

Leparoux’s countryman, Freddie Lenclud, notched a welcome victory Thursday when guiding Wild Mia to a 4 1/2-length score for trainer Tom Proctor in the nominal feature at Keeneland, a $44,814, second-level turf allowance.

Lenclud has struggled recently since losing his five-pound apprentice allowance and had gone 0 for 49 at Keeneland until the Thursday win.

◗ A Dynaformer colt named Time Limit will make his third career start in the fourth race Sunday at Churchill, but he is not to be confused with a gelding named Time Limit who raced with some success for Overbrook Farm and D. Wayne Lukas a dozen years ago. That one broke down in the 1998 Jim Beam Stakes at Turfway Park and had to be euthanized.

◗ Apprentice rider Marcelino Pedroza was not seriously injured in a Thursday spill at Keeneland. After being thrown from his mount, Ready for Success, shortly after the start of the fourth race, Pedroza was up on his feet but was later transported to a nearby hostpital for precautionary reasons. His agent, Julio Espinoza, said the 17-year-old was prepared to fulfill all Friday mounts.