10/03/2007 12:00AM

Rush With Thunder ready to take the fifth

EmailARCADIA, Calif. - Rush With Thunder was the success story of the Del Mar meeting.

Claimed on July 22 by trainer A.C. Avila, the day he won a $20,000 claiming race, Rush With Thunder reeled off three more wins at the meeting, including the El Cajon Stakes for 3-year-olds over a mile on Aug. 31.

The winning streak left Avila and the partnership that owns the gelding with high expectations. Friday's seventh race at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting, a $55,000 allowance race over seven furlongs, may determine what Rush With Thunder can accomplish this fall.

If he runs well, he could start in the $250,000 California Cup Classic on Nov. 3.

"It will be a good test and, hopefully, he won't disappoint me," Avila said of Friday's race. "If he doesn't do well, we'll point in another direction."

Avila is slightly concerned that Rush With Thunder may have been a horse for Del Mar's Polytrack synthetic main track. Friday's race will be Rush With Thunder's first start on a Cushion Track synthetic surface since he finished fourth in a $50,000 claimer at Hollywood Park last December.

Rush With Thunder has trained well on Santa Anita's Cushion Track in recent weeks, Avila said.

"At the beginning, he was okay" on the track, Avila said. "Now he wants to eat the track. He has a big stride."

Rush With Thunder races near the front, and may have company in Friday's race. Bro Lo, the winner of an optional claimer at Del Mar over 6 1/2 furlongs on Sept. 3, and Lucky J.H., the winner of 4 of his last 5 starts, are pacesetters in the field.

A quick pace greatly would help Big Bad Leroybrown, the winner of the Real Good Deal Stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar Aug. 10. Trained by Don Warren, Big Bad Leroybrown is using the race as a prep to the 1 1/8-mile California Cup Classic.

"We thought it might be a good chance to get a race into him," Warren said. "He likes seven-eighths."

Big Bad Leroybrown has made two starts since the Real Good Deal, finishing sixth in the El Cajon but a game second in the Pomona Derby over about 1 1/8 miles at Fairplex Park on Sept. 22.

"He didn't have any response" in the El Cajon, Warren said. "He was kind of a victim of a slow pace. You couldn't make a move on the leaders. We think he can get a mile and an eighth."