By Kelsey Riley
In winning the Eclipse Award for outstanding jockey, Julien Leparoux added another chapter to his already exciting resume.
The outstanding apprentice in 2006, Leparoux joins the company of Steve Cauthen, Chris McCarron, and Kent Desormeaux as champion apprentices who also won Eclipse Awards as journeymen. He is the first European-born rider to win this category.
Leparoux, who grew up surrounded by racing in Chantilly, France, won the spring meet riding titles at Keeneland and Churchill Downs in 2009, and tied Calvin Borel for the honor at Churchill’s fall meet. Leparoux won back-to-back grade I races on the Kentucky Derby day undercard, with Einstein in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) and Informed Decision in the Humana Distaff (gr. I), but his most fruitful days would come on Breeders’ Cup weekend. Leparoux won three Breeders’ Cup races—the Sentient Jet Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I) aboard Informed Decision, the Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with She Be Wild, and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) on Furthest Land, becoming just the second rider in history to do so in a year, a feat which earned him the 2009 Bill Shoemaker Award as the leading Breeders’ Cup rider.
Leparoux won 247 races from 1,286 starters in 2009 for earnings of $18,560,565.Eight of those wins were grade I races. Leparoux’s top mounts also included Einstein, Forever Together, Pure Clan, Just as Well, and Icon Project.
First-place vote totals: Julien Leparoux, 122; Garrett Gomez, 46; Ramon Dominguez, 45; Calvin Borel, 13; Mike Smith, 3; Kent Desormeaux, 2; Russell Baze, 1.