02/16/2004 1:00AM

Etc. . . .


Apprentice Mick Ruis, who led the Turf Paradise jockey standings with 105 victories through Saturday, 27 more than his nearest rival, will begin riding at Santa Anita on Thursday, agent Craig O'Bryan said. Ruis turns 17 in April . . . . Ron Kirby, a horse owner from Shelbyville, Ky., won the $6,000 first prize Sunday in the Trackside Louisville Handicapping Challenge. Kirby earned a berth in the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship next January by easily defeating more than 200 contestants.