HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Julien Leparoux rode for the first time as a U.S. citizen Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
The 34-year-old two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey became a U.S. citizen Wednesday in Louisville, Ky. in a ceremony attended by his wife, Shea, his son Mitchell and newborn son Vinn.
“It was a goal since I came here (in the U.S). I’m proud of it. I’m proud to be an American,” Leparoux said. “I was proud to have my family with me. It was special for sure.
The native of Senlis, France, Leparoux grew up in a racing family and worked for his father, Robert, a jockey-turned-trainer in Chantilly before venturing to the United States in January 2003 to exercise horses for trainer Patrick Biancone. He embarked on his riding career in 2005 before making his way to Kentucky, where he enjoyed a sensational 2006 season during which he won a national-best 403 wins and an Eclipse Award as the top apprentice.
Leparoux, who has won numerous titles in Kentucky, was honored with an Eclipse in 2009 to become only the fourth jockey to win Thoroughbred racing’s highest honor as an apprentice and as a journeyman.
“I always felt at home here. Now it is official,” Leparoux said.
He has ridden nearly 2500 winners, including champions Tepin, Classic Empire, Forever Together and Informed Decision. He has won many stakes while riding during Gulfstream’s Championship Meet for the past several years, the highlight coming with his winning ride aboard Dialed In in the 2011 Florida Derby (G1).