Recovering Corey Lanerie Returns to Winner’s Circle

Jockey credits support of friends, family since June 22 death of his wife, Shantel.

By Jennie Rees, Ellis Park track publicist

Corey Lanerie rode at Ellis Park July 13 for the first time this summer, as the four-time meet titlist resumed riding regularly following the June 22 death of his wife, Shantel Lanerie.

With his third mount of the day, Lanerie was back in the winner’s circle for the fourth race, with track announcer Jimmy McNerney saying, “Hide the Honey with Corey Lanerie on her back, and an angel on his.”

“It feels great to be back riding, doing what I love,” Lanerie said before the first race. “Kind of get life moving forward again, because it’s hard. I think when I get back to riding, it will kind of get my mind freed and back to normal life. It’s going to be weird. I really don’t know what I’ll feel like out there. I actually rode last weekend, and it was pretty good. 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.”

Lanerie rode in four stakes July 7 at Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago and came away with a pair of fourth-place finishes. Those were his first mounts since June 17.

Shantel was undergoing treatment for stage 1 breast cancer when she underwent emergency surgery for an infected colon June 21. She died the next day.

Lanerie wears an undershirt with “Fight with Shantel” on the collar embroidered in pink, as well as a bracelet.

“Before it happened, we’d ordered these shirts to ‘Fight with Shantel,’ so I’m going to just keep wearing them in honor of her,” he said. “The bracelet is the same thing. A bunch of us are wearing them, and we won’t forget her.”

The Laneries have a 10-year-old daughter, Brittlyn. Shantel and Brittlyn were regular fixtures at the racetrack, known for their splendid attire when Lanerie received an award or reached a milestone victory.

“There will be an empty spot for sure,” Lanerie said. “Because she supported me through thick and thin. She was there when I wasn’t doing any good and at my best moments.”

The jockey said his daughter is doing well. He said Brittlyn is with family in Louisiana and will be doing some traveling with close friends. But he acknowledged that facing life as a single parent is daunting.

“I think it’s sunken in,” he said. “Now I’m just scared of whatever the future has in store and whatever I’m going to have to do. I was lucky. She did everything, so it’s going to be a learning process for me. That’s kind of where I’m at, and I’m just going to take it day by day.

“It will be hard. With my career, to be honest, I don’t think I can do it as a single parent. I’m going to have to get some help. Shantel’s parents are going to come for a couple of weeks, and after that, my parents are going to come, my mom for sure, for at least three weeks, maybe a month so we can get Brittlyn settled in. Then I’m probably going to have to end up hiring a nanny or somebody. Because she likes to dance and all that, and to get her to and from practice with the hours I work, it just wouldn’t be possible.”

Lanerie said he greatly appreciates the outpouring from the racing community.

“The support and the family love has been great. Everybody has reached out to me and offered their help, anything they can do. We’re a big family here, and it really showed. A lot of people have stepped up and just gone above and beyond, just with phone calls and stuff to do. It was amazing, so heart-warming.”

Lanerie, a 43-year-old native of Lafayette, La., who has made Louisville home since moving to the Kentucky circuit in 2005, has won the last two Ellis Park training titles, as well as in 2013 (a tie with Roberto Morales) and 2010. The winner of more than 4,400 races, Lanerie is a 15-time meet leader at Churchill Downs.

Lanerie and Brittlyn were part of the award presentation when the jockey’s good friend Brian Hernandez Jr. was honored as leading rider for Churchill Downs’ spring meet. Hernandez held a one-win margin over Lanerie when Shantel was hospitalized on June 21.

“That was pretty special because Brian worked really hard and is a really good jockey,” Lanerie said. “He deserved to be leading rider. He came down (to Louisiana) for the wake. He was going to stay if I wanted him to, but I said, ‘If anybody is going to get it, Shantel would want you to have it. So go there and do what you do.'”

Lanerie said he made the decision to return to riding because “It’s not going to get any better. Life has to go on, and I figure the sooner we go and start doing things and trying to get normalcy back in our life, things will be better.”

Hernandez: Lanerie’s Presentation Of Churchill Leading Rider Trophy ‘Really Special’

by | 07.01.2018 | 7:26pm

Corey Lanerie presents the leading rider trophy to his friend, Brian Hernandez

Brian Hernandez Jr., winner of the 2012 Ellis Park riding crown, didn’t waste any time taking the first steps toward potentially another riding title, winning Sunday’s second race aboard Menacing on opening day of Ellis’ 2018 meet.

The Louisiana native was at Ellis the day after wrapping up his first riding title at Churchill Downs in his adopted hometown of Louisville, 43 wins to 38 for runner-up Florent Geroux. But the sheer joy that the accomplishment should have brought was countered by the anguish when the tight title tilt with his close friend and 15-time Churchill riding champ Corey Lanerie ended with the sudden death of Lanerie’s wife, Shantel.

Lanerie, who won the last two Ellis Park jockey titles, hasn’t ridden since June 21, when Shantel, who was undergoing treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer, had emergency surgery after an infected colon led to sepsis and cardiac arrest. She died the next day.

“It was a bittersweet moment,” Hernandez, who held a 36-35 lead over Lanerie on June 21, said of winning the title. “As everyone knows, Corey Lanerie and I were close in the standings, and his wife fell ill the last nine days of the meet and she succumbed to it. Our heart goes out to their family. It’s bittersweet to be able to win the title. But I wish we’d had Shantel here with us.”

Lanerie and their 10-year-old daughter, Brittlyn, came to Churchill’s closing day Saturday to be part of the presentation for the meet’s leading jockey.

“That was really special,” said the 32-year-old Hernandez, who in 2004 won the Eclipse Award as America’s outstanding apprentice jockey and in 2012 captured the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Fort Larned. “That was one of the requests Corey asked of me, to go ahead and try to win the title in Shantel’s memory. Like he said, if he couldn’t do it, she’d have loved for me to go ahead and do it. It was really special for him and Brittlyn to come down and get in the winner’s circle presentation and photo. It was just a special family moment.”

Hernandez spent one summer riding at Saratoga’s elite in upstate New York before deciding it made more business sense to stay at home in Kentucky with wife Jamie and their two young kids, riding at Ellis and shipping out for stakes for his clientele as needed.

“Especially the last couple of years, the 2-year-old program at Ellis has really gotten strong,” Hernandez said. “This is a great place to get young horses going in the summertime, and the track is always in great shape.”

Hernandez won 13 races at the 2017 Ellis meet, good for sixth place, while missing a lot of days to ride in stakes out of state.

“That will kind of be the same deal this summer,” he said. “We do emphasize the stakes program, then try to go around the country to ride the better horses. That’s really what it’s all about. You want to be able to pick up better horses and keep moving forward with them.

“And that’s one reason we do come to Ellis, because we pick up some nice 2-year-olds to go with the rest of the year and beyond. It makes it nice because you can come here and ride and then go home at night and spend quality time with the family. And with racing here only three days a week, it’s almost like a little summer vacation.”

Shantel Lanerie, 42, Dies; Wife Of Jockey Corey Lanerie, Mother Of Brittlyn, Waged Courageous Battle Against Cancer

Corey and Shantel Lanerie, with their daughter Brittlyn, at the Survivors Parade on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs

Shantel Lanerie, the beloved wife of Churchill Downs’ 15-time champion jockey Corey Lanerie and devoted mother of their 10-year-old daughter Brittlyn, passed away late Friday afternoon at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky. She was 42.

Shantel Lanerie was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer earlier this year and had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments to battle the disease. She was admitted to the hospital Thursday to treat what was diagnosed as sepsis – a severe infection – and underwent emergency surgery that evening, according to family friend Gary Palmisano. Sadly, her courageous fight ended Friday.

Raised in Cecilia, La., Shantel was the daughter of a trainer and met her future husband when he began riding at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La. in 1991. They were married April 11, 1997.

After dominating the Texas and Louisiana horse racing circuits, Corey and his wife moved to Kentucky in the spring of 2005 and took up residence in Louisville’s Lake Forest community.

While watching her husband ride, Shantel held various positions at the track primarily before their only daughter Brittlyn was born in early 2008. She worked as a tab writer with the clocker at Lone Star Park, a mutuel clerk at Fair Grounds and a photographer’s assistant at Churchill Downs.

As Corey’s success reached new heights with the first of 15 Churchill Downs riding titles at the 2012 spring meet, Shantel and Brittlyn were often spotted and recognized in the Churchill Downs’ winner’s circle while sporting wide smiles and the most stylish fashion.

Additionally, Shantel was famously known around the racetrack for her hospitality and delicious Cajun cooking as she often whipped up memorable meals for family and friends after the races and on “dark days” at their Louisville home.

“The Churchill Downs family is devastated by the sudden passing of Shantel Lanerie,” said Churchill Downs racetrack president Kevin Flanery. “This is a very sad day. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Corey, Brittlyn, family members and numerous friends as they endure this extremely difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

After being diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, Shantel was one of 144 women that walked in the always-stirring Survivors Parade on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs and a video that told her story was shown throughout Churchill Downs on the Big Board.

Jockeys wore pink “Fight With Shantel” bands around their legs on Kentucky Oaks Day. Those bands somberly returned during Friday’s racing program at Churchill Downs.

In addition to Corey and Brittlyn, Shantel is survived by her mother and father, Katie and Riley Hebert; brother Rylan Hebert; and mother-in-law and and father-in-law Debbie and Gerald Lanerie.

At the time of Shantel’s passing, the family was surrounded by members of the Churchill Downs jockey colony, including Robby Albarado, Brian Hernandez Jr., Ricardo Santana Jr., Julien Leparoux and Samuel Camacho Jr.

A memorial service in Louisville and funeral in Louisiana is pending.