(Corey Lanerie signed autographs at Ellis Park last summer)

Going into last week’s races at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, rider extraordinaire Corey Lanerie was not having the greatest of meets, and, perhaps, the best of times.

Well, certainly not by his standards. And, not by the standards that we all have come to expect from one of the most talented, gifted, tough, spirited, competitive and best judges of pace and timing that the Midwest has seen since the legendary days of one Pat Day.  Not by those lofty goals and expectations.

Oh, he was riding regularly. And, from time to time, he was ending up in the winner’s circle.  But his win rate was hovering around 10%. And, that is about a third of what his fans have come to expect. (And, count me as one of those.)

More concerning, though, was the appearance that he was riding a lot more lackadaisical than normal. Not with the same fire and energy. Not with the same determination and grit. Not with the same resolve and result.

Until late last week. Until he got mad.

In just another race, (well, it was the 5th last Thursday, if anyone is counting) Lanerie was making a move that certainly appeared to be a winning one with his horse Ultra Arumba. He adjusted his horse off the rail and to a clear path in the middle of the track. He drew his whip. And, he and his horse had dead aim on the winner. But, all of a sudden, he had to move a bit wider because a fading horse in front of him (that would be Miss Lucky) veered right and right into his path. Again, it appeared he had clear sailing and dead aim. Until, the same rider and horse, drifted abruptly again. Right in front of Lanerie and his steed. This time, Lanerie had to adjust even farther into the middle of the track. Once he was able to finally get by and rid of this nuisance, the duo closed yet again. But the wire came too soon. Despite all efforts, they finished second.

The chart caller wrote this: “…(Ultra Arumba) was forced out near the 3/16th then hesitated off the heels of Miss Lucky…”

And, as soon as they hit the wire, Lanerie turned in his stir-ups, stared directly at the offending rider, one Mitchell Murrill, and waved his stick in disgust. Race announcer John G. Dooley immediately remarked that Lanerie was not happy with another rider. And, I tweeted out: “It’s good to see Corey show some emotion.”

Maybe it was a wake up call. Maybe it was just an incident. Maybe it is coincidence. Maybe it was nothing at all. But since that event, Corey Lanerie has been a different rider. No. Since that event, Corey Lanerie has been the rider we have come to watch, expect and love. He has been on fire.

On Sunday, Lanerie booted home 4 winners (including 3 in a row) and finished the day with 4 wins, 1 seconds and 1 third in just 7 mounts. On Saturday, he had a second and a third in just two rides before weather forced a cancellation of the remainder of the race card. On Friday, he had 2 wins, 1 second and two fourths in just 6 mounts.

More importantly, since that “offending ride?”

Well, Lanerie has had 17 total mounts. He has 7 wins, 4 seconds, 2 thirds and 3 fourths. That amounts to a win percentage of 41.2. That amounts to an “In The Money” percentage of .76.5.

That amounts to a “Wow.” Coincidence? Maybe. But I would call it “Inspired Riding.”

By virtue of his recent surge, Lanerie has catapulted to #2 in the current jockey standings in purses earned with winnings of over $1,061,000, and to fourth in the rankings with 27 wins (11 wins behind Miguel Mena, and 10 wins behind Shaun Bridgmohan).  But I wouldn’t count Lanerie out of rallying to win the rider’s crown this meet. Not after last week.

Here’s a closer look at the top riders so far:

1 Shaun Bridgmohan 137 37 15 19 $1,071,987 27% 71 52%
2 Corey J. Lanerie 205 27 44 36 $1,061,640 13% 107 52%
3 Miguel Mena 230 38 31 30 $1,051,548 17% 99 43%
4 Mitchell Murrill 241 34 29 35 $882,930 14% 98 41%
5 Florent Geroux 143 22 25 23 $870,590 15% 70 49%
6 Joe Bravo 89 25 9 14 $745,215 28% 48 54%
7 Adam Beschizza 143 26 22 23 $683,340 18% 71 50%
8 Colby J. Hernandez 145 21 24 16 $615,950 14% 61 42%
9 Jose Valdivia, Jr. 152 14 18 20 $612,985 9% 52 34%
10 James Graham 145 18 18 16 $582,831 12% 52 36%
11 Marcelino Pedroza 184 19 25 20 $525,990 10% 64 35%
12 Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 116 14 11 13 $473,645 12% 38 33%
13 Gabriel Saez 127 17 12 14 $461,840 13% 43 34%
14 Chantal Sutherland 165 15 21 18 $437,944 9% 54 33%
15 Robby Albarado 146 10 15 18 $436,790 7% 43 29%
16 Jack Gilligan 106 12 11 15 $292,850 11% 38 36%
17 Jamie Theriot 76 7 5 8 $197,470 9% 20 26%
18 Sophie Doyle 85 8 8 9 $195,550 9% 25 29%
19 Diego Saenz 6 2 1 2 $183,638 33% 5 83%
20 Jose Riquelme 90 7 13 8 $182,010 8% 28 31%
21 Javier Castellano 7 2 1 0 $173,050 29% 3 43%
22 Christopher A. Emigh 67 6 10 5 $144,960 9% 21 31%
23 Aubrie Green 54 7 6 9 $127,240 13% 22 41%
24 Calvin H. Borel 51 3 4 6 $94,060 6% 13 25%
25 Declan Cannon 45 1 2 6 $86,320 2% 9 20%