02/24/2011 5:59PM

Q&A: Corey Lanerie

Hodges Photography

Veteran jockey, who won four titles at Lone Star Park through 2003, got career win number 3,000 earlier this month at Fair Grounds, where he is now based. He is a finalist this year for the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award.

Birthdate: Nov. 13, 1974, in Lafayette, LA

Family: Wife, Shantel; daughter, Brittlyn

Got into racing because . . . “I was raised in it. My whole family was in it. My dad, Gerald, was a jockey and is now a trainer. I practically grew up at Evangeline Downs. It’s all I knew and all I wanted to do.”

When you are born into the game like you were, do you ever think of doing anything else? “It’s all I ever dreamed about. I’d pretend I was riding on the sofa when I was a kid, watching the Kentucky Derby. One time, when I was real young, maybe in kindergarten, I fell off a bench outside while pretending to ride and broke my arm. That was my first riding injury. I knew I was going to be able to do it. God forbid if I didn’t, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Why do you think there is such a strong culture in Louisiana for racing and, especially, race riding? “I don’t know. Maybe it’s because there’s not a whole lot to do. A lot of us grew up around the racetrack. The first thing you think of is, you want to be a jockey. It’s what you want to be, and you pursue it. A lot of good ones come out of there.”

Besides your father, who were your riding idols when you were growing up? “Kent Desormeaux, when he started riding and hit it big time; Eddie Delahoussaye; Randy Romero; and Chris McCarron. I didn’t meet any of them until I started riding.”

What did it mean to you to get your 3,000th win? “It was pretty special. Not a lot of guys are able to do that because of injury, or not riding long enough. It’s an elite group. I hope I can stick around and win 4,000, maybe 5,000. There’s not a whole lot of guys that get to do that. It would put a stamp by my name, kind of stand out.”

What do you remember about your first win in 1991? “Everything. I was on High Hopes Banquet, at Evangeline Downs. I came from way, way back and came through on the fence. I came through a hole I wouldn’t go through today. You get smarter and wiser as you get older. Curt Bourque congratulated me right after the race. I think he was second in that race. He was one of the best riders at that time, so that made it pretty special for him to say that.”

You are a finalist this year for the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. What did it mean for you to be one of the five finalists? “It’s pretty neat, to know people recognize you. I fly under the radar a lot, so to be put out on the ballot like that and be nominated, it shows people really do know who I am.”

The Woolf Award is presented at Santa Anita. Have you ever been there? “Just one time I went there to ride Posse in the [2003] Malibu Stakes. It was a pretty special thing to see. It’s beautiful.”

Best horse ridden? “That’s a tough question. Maybe Posse. He was fast, and he had a closing kick down the stretch that was second to none. Star Guitar is a good Louisiana-bred. The only thing Louisiana about him is the ‘LA’ next to his name. He’s good looking.”

Best horse seen? “It would have to be Zenyatta. I saw her at Churchill Downs.”

Hobbies? “Golf. That’s about it. I ride horses and play golf every chance I get. I don’t like to fish. I like to fish if they’re biting every 30 seconds. I don’t like to find them.”

What’s your handicap? “About a 15.”

What’s the best round you’ve shot? “79, twice. I’ve shot 80 about five times, but I can never get under it.”

Future ambitions? “I’d really like to become one of those riders whose name gets pulled out for big races, a go-to rider. Obviously, I’d like to win the Kentucky Derby. But my main goal is to stay healthy and win a bunch of races.”

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