Ellis Park Press Release

Jennie Rees

 

Lanerie won the last two races Sunday to take a 25-24 lead over Graham and Baze. Graham’s title moves came in winning the fourth race on Giro Kate ($16 to win) and the fifth on Bonnet ($6.80) to finish with 26 wins out of 157 mounts, with 26 seconds and 21 thirds. Baze won the 10th race on Sister Nova ($14.20) for Asmussen for his 25th win but did not have a mount in the 11th race that closed out the meet.

“It’s been a wonderful place to race all summer, and we’ve had a lot of fun,” Graham said. “It’s been a tough meet all along. The two boys kept it honest the whole meet, Corey and Tyler. I’m just happy we all came out in one piece. It’s been great. Ellis Park did a wonderful job throughout the summer, racing quality horses, a lot of horses staying here now and not going to New York for racing because racing is good here. It’s great to finally get a riding title at Ellis. I think I’ve been second the last two years.”

The 40-year-old Graham cast off any discussion of a title in recent weeks, insisting he didn’t even know where he stood – though Lanerie suggested Sunday that his friend and rival knew exactly where things stood.

“Kind of,” Graham, a product of Dublin, Ireland, admitted with one of his trademark playful laughs. “I wasn’t paying that much attention until coming down to the last week, because you can’t. You’d put too much pressure on yourself; you just have to let things flow. I’m just glad for all the trainers who helped me out this meet and my agent, Frank (Bernis), my wife Lisa and all my kids and everybody is here and happy.”

Making the moment even more special was that Monday was the Grahams’ 13th wedding anniversary, with the jockey’s wife showing up at the races with their three young children. The Grahams recently sold their New Orleans home and are looking for a farm in the Louisville area.

Lisa Graham said the jockey never brought up the title. She only knew he had clinched a tie when her mother texted that James had won two in a row.

“For him, he just wants to ride,” said Lisa, who is from Cork. “He doesn’t worry about titles, because you can make yourself crazy. It’s so out of your control. But I’m really proud of it. Our very first summer in America, we were here in 2003, then we went to Chicago. So it’s kind of cool to come back and be leading rider.”

Meanwhile, Baze, who rode predominantly for Asmussen at Ellis, took his second-place tie in the standings in stride.