01/08/2010 12:00AM

Lanerie's confidence at new high


NEW ORLEANS - Maybe it's the confidence, maybe it's better horses, or maybe it's the change that comes from having a daughter, but whatever it is, jockey Corey Lanerie is having his best Fair Grounds season to date.

Entering racing on Friday, Lanerie had 30 wins from 207 mounts, two wins from the top of the leaderboard.

"This meet's been really good, better than expected," said Lanerie, 35. "Just all of a sudden we accumulated a lot of business from a lot of different trainers. Good trainers."

Lanerie scored his first victory at Evangeline Downs in 1991 and rose to prominence on the Texas circuit, winning riding titles at all three Texas tracks - Lone Star, Sam Houston, and Retama. He has ridden more than 2,800 career winners.

After winning four titles at Lone Star Park from 1999-2003, Lanerie moved his tack back to the Louisiana and Kentucky circuits in 2005.

While Lanerie grew up in Lafayette, La., in Acadiana, he came of age as the bush tracks were closing down, and only got to participate in a few match races.

"There was only one bush track going when I started to ride, so I only rode maybe 10 match races," Lanerie said. "But horses were in the family."

His father, Joe Lanerie, was a jockey and now trains, and his grandfather was a trainer and breeder.

"It was in the backyard, and every afternoon after school, I was in the barn," Lanerie said.

As far as his recent successes, Lanerie didn't have a single explanation, but he pointed toward the maturity that has come since starting a family with his wife.

Married for 12 years, Lanerie and his wife, Shantel, have a toddler, 2-year-old Brittlyn.

"Since we've had our daughter, my priorities are different," Lanerie said. "It's made me a different, happier person."

And the winning hasn't hurt either.

"I definitely have more confidence, and that comes from riding good horses and winning races," Lanerie said. "With more confidence, you can sit a little longer, save a little more ground."

Friesan Fire may change plans

For Friesan Fire, the unusually poor New Orleans weather may become a factor in determining the early goings of his 4-year old campaign.

On the comeback trail after his disappointing performances in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, Friesan Fire was originally pointed to the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 6 at Gulfstream Park.

Trainer Steve Asmussen's efforts to prepare Friesan Fire for the Donn have been hampered by the weather in New Orleans as Fair Grounds was forced to close the track for two mornings in December and again on Friday morning due to track conditions.

"We've missed more days this year in New Orleans than we ever have before," Asmussen said.

Friesan Fire's first race back came Dec. 3 as he ran third in an allowance race.

Since then, Friesan Fire has been working, with his latest workout coming Monday before the cold descended. Friesan Fire went six furlongs in 1:13.00, the fastest of the morning.

While the possibility of the Donn Handicap remains, his connections have been forced to consider other spots, including what would be a much easier assignment in the $75,000 Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 23.

"If we don't get the works we want, we'll have to make new plans," Asmussen said. "The weather will be the determining factor."

First night card set for Friday

Fair Grounds will hold the first of its three evening racing cards Friday. The programs will have a 5 p.m. first post and will offer ontrack entertainment and upscale dining options. Management hopes the cards will draw a younger crowd of racing newcomers to the track in addition to its regular patrons.