06/01/2011 12:48PM

Churchill Downs: Rockin’ Rockstar in for tag in deep optional claimer on turf

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Spring skipped out this year. After record rains pounded Keeneland in April and Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week in early May, it seemed that summer was here in no time in all its sultry splendor.

High temperatures have been in the 90s all week, and when an 11-race twilight card is run here Friday, it will be with a heat index hovering around 100 degrees. That’s generally bad news for the horses but good news for the beer vendors, whose prime clientele includes twentysomethings who are making a strict habit of Friday happy hours at Churchill.

Mike Lauer knows all about what to do with horses and hot weather, having owned and operated a small vanning company for years.

“Fans and electrolytes,” said Lauer, whose main gig is training horses at Churchill – meaning no van will be needed when he gives Kent Desormeaux a leg up on Rockin’ Rockstar in the Friday feature.

Rockin’ Rockstar is one of 10 3-year-olds and up in the 10th-race feature, and he’s one of just two entered for an $80,000 claiming option. Otherwise, the $56,000 turf race is governed by a classified allowance condition that drew an interesting assortment of older horses.

Rockin’ Rockstar, an earner of nearly $155,000 for a five-way partnership managed by Jack Danehy, has raced creditably in four tries over turf, and Lauer said he is optimistic the 4-year-old gelding will be able to make an impact Friday evening.

“He’s been a useful little horse,” Lauer said. “He went through his conditions pretty quick, so we’ve ended up running him against some nice horses. Hopefully, Kent can work out a nice trip for him from the one hole.”

Several others with stakes seasoning in a contentious feature include Mister Marti Gras, who defeated Rockin’ Rockstar in the Oliver Stakes on the Indiana Downs turf nearly a year ago; Mystic, a highly regarded colt from the Bill Mott barn; Lonesome Street, a front-end threat with Julien Leparoux riding; and Fiddlers Afleet, a sharp second in a recent return to action at Keeneland for new trainer Ronan Cunningham.

The Friday card is the fourth of five straight Fridays with a twilight first post of 2:45 p.m. Eastern. The feature is set for 7:24 p.m. Night racing, with a first post of 6 p.m., runs the last three Fridays of the meet: June 17, June 24, and July 1.

There are carryovers of $9,553 into the $2 pick six (races 6-11) and $5,688 into the $1 super high five (race 11).

One other allowance (race 5) is carded for Friday. It’s a $51,000, first-level allowance at seven furlongs that drew a well-matched field of seven, led by Berberis and Beamer.