Lanerie Recalls His Kentucky Derby ‘Mine That Bird Trip’ Aboard Lookin At Lee

The No. 1 post had not produced a top three finish in the Kentucky Derby since third-place finisher Risen Star in 1988, but Lookin At Lee’s jockey, Corey Lanerie, was determined to turn a seeming huge disadvantage into a major positive.

Lanerie had previously ridden in the Derby only twice, finishing 16th in 2014 and eighth in 2016, but promised himself that if he got the right horse that he wanted to get the trip that his fellow Cajun-born jockey Calvin Borel used en route to three victories in the Churchill Downs classic.

The winner of 12 riding titles at his hometown track in Louisville, Lanerie got his shot with Lookin At Lee, the Arkansas Derby third-place finisher. The jockey had never sat on the son of Lookin At Lucky until before the Derby in the paddock, but the son of the 2010 Preakness winner finally got the distance he craved and a rail-hugging ride to finish 2 ¾ lengths behind Always Dreaming, five-lengths clear of third-place finisher Battle of Midway. Now Lanerie is hoping for his first Triple Crown victory in Saturday’s Preakness.

“’The Mine That Bird trip’ was my plan, even before I had a mount,” said Lanerie, referring to victory by the 50-1 long shot under Borel in the 2009 Derby. “If I got a mount, I would try to ride like Calvin, save all the ground. Just try to pick up the pieces, unless I was on a speed horse and would be close or something like that.

“When I found out I was riding Lookin At Lee, I thought, ‘Well, he’s going to be back. I’m going to try to save all the ground I can and see what happens,’” he added. “You have to get lucky to win the Derby anyhow.”

Off at 33-1, the Steve Asmussen trainee was in front of only one horse early and never had to go around a horse as he passed everyone but Always Dreaming. Lanerie said he had only two tight spots, the first being into the first turn, territory where many a Derby has been won or lost.

Heading into the far turn, Lookin At Lee switched over to his left lead “and he hit another gear,” Lanerie said while watching a replay. Then came the closest call, as Fast and Accurate, who had been part of the early speed, had to be checked in front of Lookin At Lee.

“I thought I was going to run into a wreck,” Lanerie said. “I thought he was going to come inside. Instead, I got lucky and they bounced right instead of left. It left the rail just wide open for me. Right here I said, ‘I’m going to win the Derby.’ I was coming so fast and so easy. I thought they all had to stop.”

With only one horse in front in mid-stretch, Lanerie finally tipped off the rail to try to reel in Always Dreaming. “And Always Dreaming just wouldn’t come back,” he said. “You come so close and you don’t get it done, but to run second on only my third Kentucky Derby mount, it was pretty special – just everybody calling you and congratulating you like you’d won.”

Lookin At Lee had finished 1 ½ lengths behind Classic Empire and a length behind runner-up Conquest Mo Money in the Arkansas Derby.

“I thought he could have beaten Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby,” said Lanerie, who rode another horse in that race. “He would have beat him if it had been a mile and a quarter, it looked like, watching the replay. So he was going off the (morning-line) favorite, and I felt like my horse was better at the distance. So in my eyes, I thought I was on the favorite.”

The ultimate compliment might have come from Borel, the Hall of Famer, who told Lanerie, “I thought it was me on the horse.”

The post Lanerie Recalls His Kentucky Derby ‘Mine That Bird Trip’ Aboard Lookin At Lee appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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