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Leparoux Gives Del Mar "Two Thumbs Up"

Jockey Julien Leparoux

Closing day of the 74th Del Mar season marks the conclusion of the first full season based at Del Mar for jockey Julien Leparoux. And as they get ready to roll the credits, Leparoux is already prepared to give Del Mar I "two thumbs up.”

“I feel I have had a great meet,” Leparoux said. “We won a lot of races, a lot of big races and it has been good to ride for John Sadler, Jerry Hollendorfer, Bob Baffert and a lot of other great trainers who have given me the opportunity to ride very good horses for their stables.”

Through the first 36 racing days, Leparoux is sixth in the jockey standings with 23 wins from 131 mounts. Five of the victories have come in stakes races, placing him in a tie for first in that category with Rafael Bejarano, who has clinched his third title as rider of the meeting, and Martin Garcia.

Leparoux has mounts in all four stakes today. He’ll ride favored (9-5) Diamond Bachelor for Patrick Biancone in the Oak Tree Juvenile Turf, Longview Drive (10-1) for Hollendorfer in the Pirate’s Bounty, Horizontalyspeakin (6-1) for Sadler in the C.E.R.F. and Tamarando (8-1) for Hollendorfer in the Del Mar Futurity.

Not that it’s any surprise that the native of Senis, France, who turned 30 on July 15, two days before the meeting started, would make himself to home at Del Mar. The son of the late rider-turned-trainer Robert Leparoux won the Eclipse Award as the top apprentice in the nation for 2006 and another Eclipse as the nation’s top rider in 2009. The apprentice/journeyman Eclipse double has only been accomplished three other times – by Hall of Famers Steve Cauthen, Chris McCarron and Kent Desormeaux.

Leparoux’s mounts have averaged more than $12.7 million per year in earnings for the last seven years. For 2013 his statistics, through Monday, are 93 wins from 570 mounts for earnings of $7,383,984, 12th among jockeys nationally for earnings. He has 1,842 career wins from 9,646 mounts.

Until late last fall, the accomplishments had been done while headquartered in the East and Midwest. He moved West in the fall of 2012 and in December married Shea Mitchell, the daughter of trainer Mike Mitchell.

In addition to having the track’s all time leader for training wins as his father-in-law, Leparoux’s agent, Joe Ferrer, also books mounts for Bejarano.

How does that work?

 “Yes, it may be awkward at times. But that’s why I have an agent, I guess,” Leparoux said. “He (Joe Ferrer) has done a good job and, for my first year, it has been worked out well for both of us … I don’t come in with any goals. To have the stakes wins, it’s a matter of having good horses and being lucky to have good trips and have them run well on the day in the race.”

 Leparoux had accepted 24 mounts at Del Mar prior to this season with two wins, one of them in the 2007 Palomar Handicap for the late Hall of Fame trainer Robert Frankel in 2007.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Leparoux said of this season. “I know a lot about many tracks, but did not have the experience of some riders at Del Mar. Every track can be different because of the weather, but the weather here is pretty much the same every day.”

It wasn’t like Del Mar was a mystery needing solving.

“It’s pretty fair and when you have good horses, usually the best horse will win,” Leparoux said. “The turf course turns are a little tighter and it’s not as wide as some tracks. It’s a fast turf so you want to save ground as much as you can and be in a good position for the final run.”

“(The Polytrack main) is different than dirt, that’s for sure. But usually you want to save ground too and try not to be too far out of it (early in the race) like any other track.”

He’ll say “au revoir” at the end of the day today. He looks forward to saying “bonjour” in the summer of 2014.

“Del Mar is a nice place to ride and I am looking forward, in the future, to riding again at Del Mar.”

Parting Thoughts On Del Mar 2013

A random sampling of final words on the season/meeting from around the stable area:

Doug O’Neill, trainer: “Great meet and tons of credit to (track superintendent) Rich Tedesco for a meeting with very few injuries and Tom Robbins and the whole racing office for knowing the horse inventory they have and writing the right races so they would fill the way they have. They certainly deserve a game ball for what they did.”

Richard Mandella, Hall of Fame trainer: “It’s always great to be here. Overall it has been a very good meet for us. We just hate to leave.”

Peter Miller, 2012 leading trainer: Great meeting. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club does an excellent job running this race meet. I’m very happy with my results. We had a very good meet. I would have liked to have won the training title again, but we lost a lot of photos this year which we won last year. And I had a lot of horses that were ready to run I couldn’t get in races, which was a little disappointing.”

Phil D’Amato, trainer and assistant to Mike Mitchell. “I think it was a great meeting. Won some good stakes for the barn, and I think that overall it was a very safe track and the superintendent (Richard Tedesco) did an excellent job. All our horses came back in good order and that’s all you can ask for.”

John Sadler, trainer. “We were very happy with the meet. We were in the thick of it, start to finish, and what was nice to me personally was how they all ran well as a group. If the horses didn’t win, they were in the money a high percentage. We didn’t win the Pacific Classic, but we finished 2-3.

Corey Nakatani, jockey. “It’s always good to be here. This is the place of my first riding title and I always look forward to being here. Next year, with the summer and fall meet, it’s going to be special and I look forward to being a part of that.”

Reddam’s Double Shot In Futurity; Rum Point, Indexical

Seeking his first Del Mar Futurity, owner J. Paul Reddam has two representatives in today’s $300,000 Grade I traditional closing day feature – Rum Point and Indexical.

Rum Point, a son of Malibu Moon purchased for $150,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September sale, was a winner of a 5 ½-furlong maiden event here on August 3 under Mario Gutierrez but will be ridden today by Patrick Valenzuela.

“He’s doing really well,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “It’s a tough race, but he’s a tough horse and I think we’ll be well represented.” O’Neill will be seeking a second Futurity win to go with Stevie Wonderboy in 2005. Valenzuela has two Futurity wins, aboard Best Pal in 1990 and J P’s Gusto in 2010.

Indexical, a son of Latent Heat purchased for $70,000 in the Barretts May sale, is one of six Reddam horses under the care of Ben Cecil. Indexical was fifth of nine in his racing debut on July 20 here but came back to win a 5 ½-furlong maiden race on August 17 by 3 ¼ lengths. Mario Gutierrez is back aboard.

“He had some trouble first time over, it was a little disappointing,” Cecil said. “But he proved what we thought of him second time. This is a step up, but we’re hopeful.”

Indexical’s 84 Beyer figure for his last race is the highest number in the Futurity field.

“That’s encouraging, but you can’t always rely on figures,” Cecil said. “If you could, handicapping would be very easy. Because he’s coming back in two weeks, I haven’t breezed him. The outside post I think is fine.”

 

 

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