01/19/2007 12:00AM

Leparoux ready for the trip of a lifetime

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Julien Leparoux has become quite the frequent flier, having made maybe a dozen trips out of the Cincinnati-northern Kentucky International Airport to and from California in recent months. But when he leaves Cincinnati on Sunday morning for Los Angeles, it will be one of the most special trips of his young life.

Leparoux, 24, will ride Sunday at Santa Anita for his mentor and main client, Patrick Biancone, and then suit up Monday in a tuxedo for the annual Eclipse Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. Leparoux had one of the best seasons for any apprentice in many years and is widely expected to be honored with an Eclipse Award when the top apprentice of 2006 is revealed Monday night.

Leparoux said Friday from Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., that he will be accompanied by family and friends at the dinner and that he is "very excited" about the prospect of being honored. As for his speech, he said no one will have time to fall asleep on him.

"It will be short," he said. "I am not very good for speech."

Deegan a true Jack-of-all-trades

Racing is full of jacks-of-all-trades, but few people wear more hats than Joe Deegan. The 47-year-old Irishman took out a trainer's license about a month ago at Turfway, adding to his already burgeoning resume of jockey, exercise rider, and pinhooker.

"Keeps me out of trouble," joked Deegan, a native of Dublin.

Deegan currently is based in La Grange, Ky., at the High Point training center, where a Polytrack surface is in use. Silverado Trail and Sooey Sunrise, both 5-year-olds, finished fourth in their first tries under Deegan's care in late December at Turfway.

Deegan, who has ridden infrequently in races in recent years, has been aboard 534 winners in a North American riding career dating to 1983. He said he was informed by Turfway steward Ron Herbstreit that he can ride only his own horses in races while he is licensed as a trainer. Deegan did not ride Silverado Trail or Sooey Sunrise in either race but said he is considering riding them in upcoming starts.

It is extremely rare for someone to be licensed as both a jockey and a trainer. Diane Crump, who in 1970 rode Fathom to a 15th-place finish when becoming the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby, also held both licenses simultaneously.

Deegan, who has been prominent in recent years as an exercise rider at Churchill Downs for Kentucky Derby prospects, said what keeps him busiest is his work with 2-year-olds that he is preparing for upcoming sales.

"I'm partners in a few babies that are really coming along," he said.

* With early Triple Crown nominations being released this weekend, the first in the annual series of Turfway preps for 3-year-olds is just around the corner. The progression of races consists of the $50,000 WEBN Stakes, a one-mile race on Feb. 3; the $100,000 John Battaglia Memorial at 1 1/16 miles on March 3; and the signature race of the winter-spring meet, the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes on March 24.

* The Sunday feature at Turfway is a starter-allowance in which Daring Julie, a sharp winner of her last race, figures tough for a repeat. The eighth race, worth $9,700, is sandwiched by a pair of $20,100 maiden-special races on a nine-race card that starts at 1:10 p.m. Eastern.