06/18/2001 11:00PM

Local rider tries big boys


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Jockey Corey Lanerie has rebounded in a big way. After a disappointing winter-spring meet at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Lanerie leads the Lone Star standings by 25 wins, and as a result has earned his way into Friday night's National Thoroughbred Racing Association All-Star Jockey Championship.

The Jockey Championship is a four-race competition matching some of the nation's top riders. Others set to compete are Pat Day, Jerry Bailey, Laffit Pincay Jr., Jorge Chavez, Earlie Fires, Robby Albarado, Ron Ardoin, David Flores, Edgar Prado, Aaron Gryder, and Tyler Baze.

Lanerie won the Lone Star riding title in 1999 with a meet-record 102 wins, and carried his momentum that season over to Fair Grounds, where he finished third in the track's 1999-2000 standings. But this season, he could not match his meet from a year ago, when he won 74 races. "I think the year before I won double the races I did this year," said Lanerie. "I don't think [the disappointing meet] was anything I did or anybody else did. It was just a matter of stock."

Lanerie lost some of his best stock when trainer Michael Stidham ended his first-call relationship with the rider about a month before the close of Fair Grounds. But it wasn't long afterward that Lanerie received an offer to ride first call for Steve Asmussen, who is on pace to win his third training title at Lone Star.

The decision to accept was a no-brainer.

"I was looking to rebound, to hopefully be leading rider [at Lone Star], and when I got the offer to ride for Steve I couldn't pass it up," said Lanerie. "It was obvious whoever would have rode for him would be leading rider if it wasn't me."

Lanerie has had an outstanding Lone Star meet. He has won 64 races in the first 53 days of the meet through Tuesday, which places him 25 wins ahead of second-leading rider Curt Bourque. He also ranks as the leading rider in almost every category this meet, including allowance races, for an overall 20 percent win clip at Lone Star.

All of that makes Lanerie one to consider when handicapping this year's Jockey Championship, which will offer patrons an opportunity to bet on which rider will win through a special wager. Lanerie is the "rider-for-course" as Lone Star's all-time winningest jockey with 276 wins, and he also has a strong record in the Jockey Championship, finishing second to Pincay the one other time he started in the competition in 1999. He also is familiar with the horses that run at Lone Star.

"I know the horses that are going to be running more than the other riders," said Lanerie. "I might have ridden the one I'm on, and a couple of other ones they're on, and know some of the quirks about them. Certainly you need to have some horse under you [to win]. You've got to get lucky in the draw, but once you draw well, then it's up to you to get the job done."

Lanerie said after Lone Star he plans to ride at Arlington Park, and during the fall meet at Keeneland before returning to Fair Grounds.

* Smokin N Jokin seeks her fourth straight win in the featured eighth race Thursday night, a 1 1/16 miles optional claiming turf race worth $31,000. In her last start, Smokin N Jokin was claimed for $35,000 by second leading trainer Cole Norman.