With a commanding lead entering the final day of the 2014 Churchill Downs Spring Meet, jockey Corey Lanerie has clinched his fifth Churchill Downs riding title with 55 wins entering Sunday’s closing day card.
The recent recipient of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award captured his first title in the spring of 2012 when he tallied 71 victories, came back and won the title again in the fall of 2012 with 29 wins, took the inaugural September meeting in 2013 with 19 wins and followed that with another title last November where he rode 36 winners.
“Once you’ve accomplished a leading riding title you always want to repeat,” Lanerie said. “It’s definitely a goal I set for myself coming into this spring.
“I try not to look into the standings during the meet because I don’t want it to affect my focus. So I just try to win as many as I can each week to try to earn a good paycheck.”
Lanerie is scheduled to ride nine mounts on Sunday’s card, totaling an unprecedented 253 mounts for the meet, at least 70 more than any other jockey this spring under the Twin Spires.
“My agent plays a big role in my success and has a lot of connections here at Churchill,” Lanerie said. “Other than that, it’s just putting in work; I’ve spent a lot of time here over the years and have been able to build up some great relationships.”
The highlight of Lanerie’s meet was the win he took the $216,200 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) on Molly Morgan for trainer Dale Romans.
“I’d say the Fleur de Lis was probably the most memorable for me this meet, just because it was a graded stakes and we weren’t really expected to win that one.”
Molly Morgan won the Fleur de Lis by four lengths at odds of 10-1, defeating Grade I-winner On Fire Baby and graded stakes winners Fiftyshadesofhay and Flashy American.
Lanerie also was the only jockey to eclipse $2 million in earnings, with $2,006,696 entering the final day of racing at Churchill.
“I’m lucky to have so many opportunities to ride and obviously the more opportunities you have, the more you win,” Lanerie said. “People like me, thank God, and fortunately they ask for me.”
In addition to the 55 wins from his 253 mounts, Lanerie also has scored 47 second-place finishes and has ridden 44 third-place finishers, putting his in-the-money percentage at 60% and win percentage a 22% entering Sunday.
SILVER MAX, GUYS REWARD EXIT IN GOOD ORDER FOR ROMANS
After finishing first with Mark Bacon and Dana Wells’ Silver Max and third with Michael J. Bruder’s Guys Reward in Saturday’s $224,800 Firecracker (Grade II), trainer Dale Romans said that both horses exited the race in good order.
“They both came out great,” Romans said. “It was a good comeback race for Silver Max and we were very pleased with both of their efforts.”
Romans has won the Firecracker a record four times, taking the race with Guy’s Reward in 2012, Thorn Song in 2008 and Kitten’s Joy in 2005.
Romans was unsure where his two stakes horses would make their next two starts but mentioned both the Aug. 2 Fourstardave Handicap (GII) at Saratoga and July 27 Oceanport (GIII) at Monmouth as possibilities.
“We’ll wait and see how things play out in that division,” Romans said. “We’ll take a look at the Oceanport and the Fourstardave though.”
Should either horse take a shot at the Fourstardave, they will likely have to face two-time horse of the year Wise Dan, who missed the Firecracker due to surgery but is expected to return in the Fourstardave according to his trainer Charlie LoPresti.
Silver Max won the 2013 Shadwell Turf Mile (GI) at Keeneland last October, handing Wise Dan his only loss of the year. The race actually was held on the Polytrack and run at the distance of 1 1/16 miles due to extreme weather conditions.
Wise Dan responded by taking the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) last November, while Silver Max finished fourth. Out of four total meetings between them, Wise Dan holds the 3-1 record advantage.
RECORD-EXTENDING 14TH TRAINING TITLE CLINCHED BY ASMUSSEN
Entering the final day of spring racing under the Twin Spires, trainer Steve Asmussen has clinched his 14th training title at Churchill Downs, the most titles ever won at the historic Louisville racetrack.
Entering Sunday’s card, Asmussen had 19 wins, nine seconds and 12 third-place efforts from 81 starters with earnings of $1,279,014.
Highlighted by a victory in the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) with Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Untapable, Asmussen captured a total of five stakes wins for the meet.
“It feels very good,” Asmussen said. “It’s a special meet with Untapable winning the Oaks. My assistants Darren Fleming and Galen Prewitt have done a wonderful job for us and hopefully the hits keep coming.”
His other stakes winners this meet were Cinco Charlie, who won Saturday’s $108,100 Bashford Manor (GIII); Tapiture, who won the $109,400 Matt Winn; Speedinthruthecity, winner of the $65,194 Roxelana; and Regally Ready, victor of the $64,907 Opening Verse.
Asmussen took his first training title in the fall of 2001, saddling 13 winners. He has won the fall training title six times, the spring title seven times and took the inaugural September meeting title in 2013.
Entering Sunday, Asmussen had saddled 516 winners at Churchill Downs, third on the all-time list behind Bill Mott (678) and Dale Romans (615).
MAGGI MOSS SECURES LEADING OWNER HONORS FOR A THIRD TIME
With seven victories entering the final day of Churchill Downs spring meeting, owner Maggi Moss has secured her third leading owner title with seven wins, highlighted by a victory by Delaunay in the $112,900 Aristides (GIII).
Moss also captured leading owner honors in the spring of 2010 and the spring of 2007. With a record of seven wins, six runner-up finishes and seven thirds, she has accumulated $230,926 in earnings for the meet.
Entering Sunday, six owners were tied for second in wins with four, but none had more than one starter on the Sunday card.
Moss said in a tweet on Saturday that her private goal was to become the leading owner of the Churchill Downs spring meet, that she was really happy and then thanked her trainer Tom Amoss for his efforts.
LIVE RACING RETURNS TO CHURCHILL DOWNS SEPTEMBER 5
Churchill Downs will host its second September meeting beginning on Friday, Sept. 5. The 12-day meet will feature live racing Friday-Sunday, with the final day on Sunday, Sept. 28.