Julien Leparoux, a two-time champion jockey in the United States, and Alan Garcia, who won the 2008 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), will both be at Golden Gate Fields Feb. 18 to compete in the $200,000 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III).
The Frenchman Leparoux, one of only four jockeys to win Eclipse Awards as champion apprentice (2006) and champion journeyman (2009), will ride Daddy Nose Best for trainer Steve Asmussen in the El Camino Real Derby. Leparoux, 28, is currently based at Gulfstream Park in Florida,
Garcia, who guided Da’ Tara to a $79 shocker in the final leg of the Triple Crown, will pilot Irish-bred Lucky Chappy for Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Graham Motion. Garcia, 26, from Peru, was a champion apprentice in his homeland (2003) and is currently based at Aqueduct in New York.
Both jockeys will be making their first trips to Northern California.
Leparoux was in Southern California on Dec. 31 to ride Daddy Nose Best in the Eddie Logan Stakes at Santa Anita. That road trip was unsuccessful as Daddy Nose Best finished fifth as the 4-to-5 favorite in the one-mile grass race.
“I went there expecting to win, but I don’t think he cared for the turf there,” said Leparoux in a phone interview Feb. 12 from the jockey’s room at Gulfstream Park. “He was getting out with me.”
In his race prior to the Eddie Logan, Daddy Nose Best rallied from seventh in a field of 10 to win a one-mile turf race at Churchill Downs by 3 1/4 lengths under Leparoux.
“He ran a very good race that day at Churchill,” said Leparoux. “It was an impressive win. He’s got a lot of talent, and hopefully he can show that talent (in the El Camino Real Derby). I know Steve Asmussen is very happy with how the horse is doing right now.”
A large cast is shaping up for the race, Northern California’s key prep for Triple Crown hopefuls. The field will be drawn Feb. 15 and the following horses are expected to be entered: All Squared Away (Kerwin John will ride), Cahill Chrome (Juan Hernandez), Daddy Nose Best (Leparoux), Handsome Mike (Corey Nakatani), Lady of Fifty (Russell Baze), Lucky Chappy (Garcia), Rockinarz Recruit (Abel Cedillo), Russian Greek (Aaron Gryder), Senor Rain (Kevin Krigger), and Unveiled Heat (Frank Alvarado).
The El Camino Real Derby will be the eighth race on a nine-race program and has a scheduled post time of 4:43 p.m. PST. In addition to HRTV, the El Camino Real Derby will be carried live on Comcast SportsNet California during its one-hour telecast (4-5 p.m.).