01/08/2008 12:00AM

Lauer has good reasons to run

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STICKNEY, Ill. - First, there is a race for leading trainer on at Hawthorne, and second, the Chicago racing season has reached its final days, meaning that strictly local outfits are throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the races here. Even so, it is a Kentucky-based trainer who generally starts only a handful of horses at Hawthorne who stands to have a big day here Thursday.

Mike Lauer, who has 3 wins from 12 starters this meet, entered horses in four of the day's nine races, including an entrant in all three of Thursday's allowance races. That's right - three allowance races on one January card, which is more than a little surprising.

"I entered them all, but I really didn't expect the races to go," Lauer said.

As for his unexpectedly strong presence late in the Chicago season, Lauer had an easy explanation.

"The purses are better than at Turfway, the fields are short, and these are good opportunities," he said. "You have to earn money all year round. The bank doesn't say, 'It's January, it's your slow time of year, take a break till April.' "

For race 4, an entry-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies, Lauer has Ring Ring Ring, who finished 10th of 11 last out in a Churchill Downs allowance race, but has more talent than she showed that day. Ring Ring Ring finished a close, troubled fourth of 11 while making her career debut at Presque Isle Downs, and won a maiden race at Hoosier Park. In all four of her races, she has broken slowly.

"She's definitely still learning," Lauer said. "The race at Churchill, she never got in the race at all. I hope it was a learning experience for her."

In race 7, a second-level Illinois-bred allowance route, Lauer entered the 4-year-old filly Jermidy, who struggled for much of 2007 after showing some promise a year earlier. Jermidy, however, showed signs of life in her two most recent starts, and was compromised by a slow pace when she rallied for third on Dec. 20. Thursday, she should have a more honest pace in front of her, which could make all the difference.

Kirby, Reavis in tight battle

One of two Chicago veterans, Frank Kirby or Mike Reavis, will be leading trainer at the meet, but coming into the final week of the season, the two were separated by only one win, with Kirby up, 34-33.

While Reavis has only a single horse entered Thursday, Kirby has horses in four different races, including two horses in races 3, 4, and 9.