01/26/2007 1:00AM

Leparoux made winning look easy


Julien Leparoux was a clear winner of the Eclipse Award for champion apprentice after crafting one of the most successful career launches ever by a jockey. An apprentice for much of 2006, he led all riders in North America in wins for the year, with 403 from 1,740 mounts. Along the way, there were Grade 1 victories aboard Gorella and Asi Siempre, and multiple riding titles in Kentucky.

Leparoux, who lost his apprentice allowance on Sept. 25, partnered often with trainer Patrick Biancone, who trains both Asi Siempre, winner of the Spinster in October, and Gorella, whose victory in the Beverly D. in August gave Leparoux his first win in a Grade 1.

"I am surprised because of how good it has been," Leparoux, a 23-year-old native of France, said in September. "I only was expecting to win races."

That he did in droves. Leparoux set a Turfway Park record for most wins in its winter-spring season, then became the first apprentice to win a Keeneland title when he tied Rafael Bejarano in the jockey standings during the spring meet. Leparoux proceeded to become the first apprentice since 1949 to win the riding title at Churchill Downs, then picked up another riding title in the fall at Keeneland.

Leparoux's mounts earned $12,491,316 in 2006, surpassing the record mark of $7.5 million for an apprentice, which had been held by Jeremy Rose. Leparoux won 26 stakes in 2006, 12 of them graded.

* VOTING: Julien Leparoux, 254; Rosie Napravnik, 7; Martin Garcia, 6; Voter abstentions, 4.