04/26/2014 11:42AM

Lanerie to ride Harry's Holiday in Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Corey Lanerie will be riding in his first Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Corey Lanerie has ridden in over 25,000 races, winning more than 3,500. He has been the leading rider at Churchill Downs four times, and was voted this year’s winner of the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

What he surprisingly hasn’t done is ride in the Kentucky Derby, something he is on course to change next week. Saturday morning he was named the jockey of longshot Harry’s Holiday by trainer Mike Maker, shortly after the rider worked the colt five furlongs in 1:02.60.

“I never even thought I’d ride at Churchill Downs,” he said. “It would be like I’m getting to the top of the mountain to get to ride in the Derby. It would be awesome for me and my family - just a proud moment.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Lanerie, 39, comes from a family that has long been involved in racing, albeit on a smaller stage. His father, Gerald, was a jockey and later became a trainer, and a grandfather also trained. Born in Lafayette, La., Lanerie began galloping horses at age 9, and rode at unrecognized bush tracks in Louisiana beginning his professional career at age 16 at Evangeline Downs.

The confirmation that he would receive the mount on Harry’s Holiday left him with something further to do Saturday. He had to call his mother, Debbie. “She wants to come and is running out of time,” he said.

Harry’s Holiday, beaten a nose when second in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway in March, finished 13th in his final Derby prep, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. He has a win and a second in two starts at Churchill Downs, where his majority owner, Terry Raymond, claimed him for $30,000 from a maiden race last September.