It’s been a strange and wild ride for jockey Corey Lanerie and Mo Tom. The pair is just six weeks removed from an errant run at the Louisiana Derby that almost cost the rider his relationship with the Kentucky Derby contender. Even trainer Tom Amoss was pretty quick to throw Lanerie under the proverbial hooves after a disappointing fourth place finish at Fair Grounds’ biggest race.
Expectations for Mo Tom have been fairly high during the prep for the Triple Crown series. He was supposed to win both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby, but had almost identical problems in both races as he was forced in to hard checks down the homestretch. Trainer Tom Amoss was not shy about criticizing his jockey’s course of action in either race either.
“I don’t understand the ride Corey, to be quite frank with you,” Amoss said at the end of the Louisiana Derby. “I was not at my professional best with Corey afterward and I apologize for that. It’s all the work we put into the horse. To watch that unfold is, the only thing I can compare it to is being present to watch your son get beat up on the playground. It’s hard to watch.” Amoss went as far as to say that, “I just hope he didn’t hurt my hors,” after seeing Corey Lanerie ride him to the rail.
To his credit, Lanerie admitted fault after a crushing Louisiana Derby race. “He’s a great horse,” Lanerie said of Mo Tom. “I got him in a ton of trouble. I had more horse than I knew what to do with. It was a bad ride and totally my fault.” Lanerie even expressed that he’d be surprised if Amoss let him ride Mo Tom again.
Eventually, Amoss came around. Time heals all wounds but it also has a way of reminding handlers that they can’t change things up on their horses too much before a big race. “Corey knows this track better than anybody and he knows my horse better than anybody,” Amoss expressed after announcing that the jockey would return in Mo Tom’s saddle for the Kentucky Derby. “We feel blessed to have him.”
Corey Lanerie is one of the winningest riders at Churchill Downs and that likely played a big factor. But it also goes a long way in reminding us that Amoss trusts Lanerie with his horse once more and that words spoken in the heat of the action can often be sensationalized.
“He gets along with him great and also knows his nuances,” Amoss continued on the relationship that Corey Lanerie has with Mo Tom. “That may sound like a contradiction, but he does. The thing about Mo Tom is that he has this switch; he turns it off out of the gate and relaxes, but when you turn that switch on, he goes in a hurry. I think it has surprised a lot of people. With Corey on him, he knows that when he turns that switch on, it’s go time.
“Corey also knows how long he can carry that kick, and it’s more than the average horse. Those aren’t things you can describe to a rider who has never ridden him in a race. We feel lucky to have him.”
There is no mistaking that Mo Tom is a lot of horse to handle. Even with just two low-grade stakes victories on his resume, horse men know that Mo Tom had the muscle and desire to make dazzling home stretch runs at both the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby. Hopefully this time, Corey Lanerie can find the right line for Mo Tom to prove just how great he actually is.
Talk about a redemption story.