02/16/2012 8:01PM

Leparoux to switch base of operations to New York this spring

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Keeneland/Coady Photography
Julien Leparoux after winning the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland last fall aboard Never Retreat.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Jockey Julien Leparoux confirmed Thursday that he plans to move his tack to New York on a regular basis sometime in early May.

Leparoux said he will ride out the current Gulfstream Park meet, which concludes on April 8, before heading to Keeneland where he was the leading rider at each of the last three meets dating back to the fall of 2010.

“After Keeneland I will either go to Churchill Downs for the opening week of their upcoming meet or head right to Belmont,” said Leparoux. “It just depends on what kind of mounts I might have lined up for Derby weekend.”

Leparoux, 28,  said there were several reasons why he’s chosen to leave  the Kentucky circuit for New York this spring.

“I just felt I was at a point in my career where I’m looking for a new challenge,” said Leparoux. “Racing in New York figures to be very strong this year and to grow even stronger in the years to come. I’ll miss Kentucky but I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”   

Leparoux, a native of France,  has won 1,592 races and has mount earnings of more than $82 million since he began riding in the United States in 2005. He currently is tied for fifth in the Gulfstream Park standings with 31 wins, and last weekend was named to ride leading Kentucky Derby hopeful Union Rags in the Feb. 26 Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Purses have been raised at Aqueduct and may continue to climb at Belmont Park and Saratoga following the opening of a casino at Aqueduct last fall. Kentucky tracks have been unable to get a casino gambling bill passed despite repeated attempts over the last decade.