Continuing with our popular “Meet The People” series, I recently sat down with Julian Leparoux in the jockey’s room at Gulfstream Park. Julian emigrated from France to the USA in 2003 and began riding thoroughbred horses as a jockey in 2005. He made a big splash in 2006 by setting records for an apprentice in terms of wins and earnings. As a result of these feats, he was awarded the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey that year.
Over the years he has been labeled as an excellent “turf rider,” “polytrack rider,” “gate rider” … and a few more that he mentions below. But in the end, as I discovered with many of Julian’s responses … it really all depends on the horses he’s riding.
How did you get started riding horses?
My dad was an assistant trainer in France. I grew up around horses all my life. I started riding at eleven and I did show jumping. I started riding racehorses around eighteen. I galloped horses one year in France, and then I came to the States in 2003 and started riding in 2005. Then 2006 was an amazing year, I won 403 races and was top apprentice.
Read More >>
Taylor Rice (Photo courtesy of Zilla Racing Stable)
On a recent visit to Belmont Park, I was able to sit down and have a nice talk with apprentice jockey Taylor Rice. To describe Taylor as exuberant might be an understatement. She is so full of energy and enthusiasm that I felt at any moment she might burst like a water filled balloon.
During our conversation she described her strong family bonds, indirect path to becoming a jockey, and the thrill of competing in a game where she feels that she is finally on a level playing field with her competitors. So enjoy reading about this exuberant young jockey.
How deep are your bloodlines in the horse racing business?
It started with my grandfather Clyde Rice. He’s been in the business since my dad was young. My dad and my uncle both were jockeys. I have a handful of aunts and uncles who were also jockeys. But in my generation, I’m the only one small enough. My couple cousins and two brothers are too big. Both my brothers and my dad train at Presque Isle Downs. Wayne, Kevin, and Adam Rice – that’s my dad and my two brothers.
My family moved to Florida about the time I was born and they were doing mostly the yearlings to two-year-olds and horse sales. So I didn’t know anything about the race track. So for me, it was graduate from high school and go to college. Racing wasn’t even a thought.
But I’ve ridden horses my whole life, me and both of my brothers. I’ve dabbled in the rodeo and junior rodeo, but I preferred playing high school sports. I played volleyball, basketball, and softball all through high school.
Read More >>
Gary Stevens and Mucho Macho Girl
In Part 1 of our interview with Gary we discussed his relationship with his son, T.C. Stevens, who is presently a head trainer. Click here to read Part 1 about how proud Gary Stevens is of his son and what he is presently doing.
In part 2 of our conversation, Gary talks about the young jockey Dylan Davis and his friendship with his dad, Robbie Davis. That leads into topics on jockey safety, pre-race preparations, and how he deals with the emotions of a roller coaster business. On the last subject, Gary shares his experiences during Breeders’ Cup 2013 … from the low of being disqualified in a $2 million dollar race to the high of winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Mucho Macho Man.
Read More >>
Dylan Davis is the son of Robbie Davis, a very successful jockey on the New York and California racing circuits for nearly two decades. Dylan is currently an apprentice rider, riding full-time at Gulfstream Park. During a recent visit to Gulfstream Park, I sat down with Dylan in the grandstand on a dark day of racing. He explained how he initiated his own interest in riding, the mechanics of the apprentice system, and his special connection with the Wesley Ward stable.
During the discussion, several times Dylan became quite animated and demonstrated that special quality of youthful exuberance. This young man is clearly excited about what he’s doing, and intent on working as hard as possible to keep the odds in his favor.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Saratoga Springs and went to Saratoga High School. When I was younger I was traveling with my dad though; at Saratoga in the summer, Spring and Fall at Belmont and Aqueduct, and in the winter here at Gulfstream. And once he retired, we resided in Saratoga.
How deep in your bloodlines does horse racing go?
Read More >>