11/16/2012 12:32PM

Churchill: Lanerie clings to lead atop jockey standings


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A prime example of why Corey Lanerie has become a top jockey came in the Thursday feature at Churchill Downs, a five-furlong turf allowance in which he displayed some subtle and savvy horsemanship in guiding Sweet Cassiopeia to victory.

Entering the turn about eight lengths behind the leading pack, Sweet Cassiopeia attempted to bolt for a few strides, but Lanerie shifted his weight and got the filly onto her left lead. From there, they quickly made up ground before going on to a three-length score.

“I said to her, ‘Don’t slip on me!’ ” said Lanerie, who will depart for his first Gulfstream Park meet after the Churchill meet ends next Sunday, Nov. 25. “I got her straightened out pretty quick, and then she did her thing.”

Lanerie, easily the leading rider here in the spring, is in a spirited battle with Shaun Bridgmohan for fall honors. Through Thursday, and with 8 of 21 cards to go at the meet, Lanerie held a 17-16 lead atop the jockey standings.

Meanwhile, Sweet Cassiopeia has quietly developed into a very useful sort for trainer Bill Connelly. A 4-year-old filly, she earned a career-high 92 Beyer Speed Figure by winning for the fourth time in her last five starts. Connelly said she will race at 5 after getting a short rest over the winter at Palm Beach Downs in south Florida.

On Fire Baby turned out again

On Fire Baby, one of the top 3-year-old fillies the first half of the year, has been turned out again on an Ocala farm after training in sluggish fashion at Churchill.

On Fire Baby has not raced since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont Park in late May. She got time off afterward, and after trainer Gary Hartlage brought her back into training at Churchill, he said he was not satisfied with her progress. She breezed twice last month before being turned out again.

“She’s just not right, for whatever reason,” said Hartlage assistant Sam Feldpausch. “She just needs more time, and hopefully, she’ll come back to herself. We’re definitely looking forward to running her next year.”

Applauding ready to return

Applauding, the filly who set the Keeneland track record for 6 1/2 furlongs in her career debut in October 2011, breezed a half-mile Friday in 49 seconds in preparing for her comeback here Wednesday in a second-level allowance.

Applauding, now 3, is unraced since extending her career mark to 2 for 2 in an allowance last December at Fair Grounds. Trainer Al Stall Jr. said he is happy with the progress the filly has made in overcoming what he described as a “systemic problem” that kept the filly out of training for part of this year.

Rosario to ride in Falls City

Joel Rosario will be among the big-name jockeys coming to town next week. Rosario will ride Afleeting Lady in the Grade 2 Falls City on the Thanksgiving card Thursday. Afleeting Lady will be one of the favorites in the 1 1/8-mile Falls City, for which only 13 fillies and mares were nominated. Joyful Victory also can be expected in the lineup, said trainer Larry Jones, while other notable nominees include Arena Elvira, Brush By a Star, and Salty Strike.

The Falls City is the first of five graded stakes set for a big closing week. The fall-meet anchor event, the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, will be run Friday.

Mott mulling Scatman’s next start

The next start for Scatman has yet to be determined in the wake of another impressive triumph. A 3-year-old colt, Scatman scored a 5 3/4-length win in a one-mile allowance here Nov. 9, improving to 2 for 2 since coming under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

“Nothing has been decided about his next race,” said Mott assistant Kenny McCarthy.