He’s a highly decorated racer, but there’s one prize that has escaped Julien Leparoux’s grasp: the Kentucky Derby! As Julien readies his horse, Classic Empire, for the ‘Run For The Roses,’ get to know all about him and why he has a chance to finally win.
1. Horses are in his blood.
Julien Leparoux, 33, was born into a racing family, as he is the song of jockey-turned-assistant trainer Robert Leparoux. After being born in Senlis, Oise, France, Julien and his family emigrated to California. He began his professional riding career at age 22, winning his first race at the Saratoga Race Course. He finished the Saratoga meet with 28 wins, the most in track history by an apprentice rider.
2. He’s already got a long list of accomplishments.
Julien has won two Eclipse Awards – so far. He was given the 2006 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. In 2006, he won the Eclipse for Outstanding Jockey. Though Julien has yet to win any events in thoroughbred horse racing’s triple crown – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes – he has won seven Breeders’ Cup races, including the Breeders’ Cup mile in 2015 and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2016.
3. He’s the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby.
Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race, Julien won that event with Classic Empire, the horse he’ll ride in the 2017 Kentucky Derby. Classic Empire is the 4-1 odds favorite to win the race. His closest finish came in 2012, when he rode Union Rags. After the horse suffered a poor start, he and Julien finished seventh in that race.
4. He helped qualify three horses in the derby.
Classic Empire is not the only horse Julien has in this race. In fact, he actually qualified not just one but three horses for this event, according to the Miami Herald. “The winter’s been crazy, Derby-wise,” said Julien, “Went from nothing to having three in the Derby. … We picked up Irap and win the Blue Grass, which was a good surprise, and then State of Honor has run good all winter. It’s been a good winter and spring, for sure.”
5. He’s got a cute family.
In 2012, Julien married his wife, Shea, a daughter of a racehorse trainer. The two struck up a romance – where else? – at the race track. After Julien fell off a horse during an event, Shea tweeted a simple “I hope you’re ok” at him. They were married not long after that. In 2015, they welcomed their first son, Mitchell Leparoux.
What do you think about Julien, HollywoodLifers? Do you think he’ll win the Kentucky Derby?