Louisiana native Lanerie returns to winner’s circle after wife’s death
Three weeks to the day after his wife Shantel died, jockey Corey Lanerie was back in a place he’s visited more than 4,400 times – the winner’s circle.
Lanerie won the fourth race at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky, on Friday, a turf sprint aboard 6-5 favorite Hide the Honey.
“Hide the Honey with Corey Lanerie on her back and an angel on his,” track announcer Jimmy McNerney said as the winner crossed the finish.
The Lafayette native then made it back-to-back victories on the card, capturing the fifth race aboard Sohni.
“I think when I get back to riding, it will kind of get my mind freed and back to normal life,” Lanerie said earlier Friday in an interview with Jennie Rees of the Ellis Park publicity staff. ” Once I get on the horse, I focus on the race and my job, whatever I have to do. I think I’ll go out there and do my job and just let it go as it is, and I think I’ll be fine.”
Shantel Lanerie died June 22 at the way-too-soon age of 42 after being hospitalized the day before with a severe infection of the colon. She had been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer earlier this year and was the face of breast cancer awareness efforts at Keeneland and Churchill Downs this spring. Jockeys across the country spread the word about Shantel’s battle by wearing pink leg bands with the message “Fight With Shantel.”
“She supported me through thick and thin,” said Corey Lanerie, who wore an shirt under his silks with “Fight With Shantel” embroidered in pink on the collar. “She was there when I wasn’t doing any good and at my best moments.”
Shantel Lanerie, a native of Cecilia, was laid to rest on June 28 just outside Lafayette. Corey Lanerie and the couple’s 10-year-old daughter, Brittlyn, have spent much of the last two weeks in Louisiana, though he did ride in four stakes races last Saturday at Arlington Park in Illinois – his first mounts since June 17.
The 43-year-old Lanerie was a regular at Fair Grounds each winter through 2013 before returning to New Orleans last season. He has won 20 riding titles on the Kentucky circuit, including 15 at Churchill Downs at four at Ellis, where the Kentucky circuit operates for much of July and August.
With Friday’s two victories, Lanerie now has 4,409 career wins, six behind another Louisiana native, Craig Perret, to move into the top 50 all-time in Thoroughbred racing history.
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Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…