Moments after Corey Lanerie learned he would ride Harry's Holiday in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) May 3 at Churchill Downs—surprisingly the first Derby mount for the winner of multiple Churchill riding titles—the veteran rider called his mother.
Landing a mount in the Derby is still special, even if you're Lanerie and already have won more than 3,500 races.
"It would be a dream come true. It's what everybody wants," Lanerie said. "I never even thought I'd ride at Churchill Downs and to ride in the Derby...
"It will be awesome for me and my family, a proud moment."
Lanerie, 39, ranked third in the Churchill Downs spring meet rider standings and then finished atop the board for both the September meet and the fall meet at Churchill. He has had a banner year and was recently named the winner of the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, which honors riders for their acomplishments on and off the track.
Originally from Lafayette, La., Lanerie knew he was a strong possibility to ride Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (gr. III) runner-up Harry's Holiday when he was named to work the son of Harlan's Holiday April 26 at Churchill. With trainer Mike Maker looking on, Harry's Holiday completed five furlongs in 1:02 3/5.
Harry's Holiday is campaigned by Louisville, Ky.-based owners Skychai Racing (Harvey Diamond), Sand Dollar Stable, Terry Raymond, and Jana Wagner. Rosie Napravnik guided him in the Spiral and in an off-the-board finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), but in the Derby she will be riding Vicar's in Trouble for Maker.
Shortly after Harry's Holiday and Lanerie returned to the barn, Maker gave Lanerie the official word that he would have the mount. Lanerie then had an update to make.
"She's waiting for the phone call now," Lanerie said with a smile as he dialed his mother, Debbie.