12/03/2007 1:00AM

Meier plans comeback from broken arm

EmailSTICKNEY, Ill. - Randy Meier can put another notch on whatever instrument he uses to measure broken bones. But make no mistake - Chicago racing hasn't seen the last of him.

Meier suffered approximately the 48th broken bone of a long career when he went down in the terrible spill Friday at Hawthorne that has left jockey Lyndie Wade in a coma. Meier, riding Arazi Exchange, was just inside and behind Wade when his mount, Chestnut Gold, broke down suddenly and catastrophically turning into the stretch.

"I was just in the wrong spot," Meier said, reached at home Monday morning. "There was no way I could miss the horse. He just dropped and was just in front of me when he did. I was right there on top of him. Another freak deal of the Randy Meier saga - what more can I say."

Meier, who has been locked in a battle for leading rider this meet, was scheduled to see his regular orthopedist Monday afternoon, but already knows from a trip to the hospital following the spill that he has a badly broken arm. The humerus bone has been broken - probably in multiple spots - just beneath the ball-joint of his shoulder. Surgery is almost certain to be required.

Going under the knife is nothing new for Meier, who since 1997 has had only one year, 2001, when he didn't miss time because of injury. The surgery, the rehab, the work to regain lost business - it's all gotten more than a little old for 53-year-old Meier. Nevertheless, Meier vowed he would ride again. His son, Brandon, plans on launching his own riding career next year at Arlington. Meier said his main goal is to ride races with his son.

"When I retire, it's going to be on my own terms," Meier said.

Copper State finished for year

Polytrack is supposed to be the champagne of training surfaces, but that's not how things worked for Copper State, who came out of her summer on Arlington's new synthetic track sore in her hind end. Too sore, in fact, to make Hawthorne's Illinois Day last month, which is too bad, since Copper State looks much like the best Illinois-bred female route horse in training.

Trainer Richard Hazelton said he didn't think he could properly prepare Copper State for a November stakes race, so elected to keep her in Illinois-bred allowance company at the start of the Hawthorne meet. Racing at a sprint distance shorter than her best, Copper State finished second on Sept. 30, but easily won a second-level Illinois-bred two-turn allowance race on Oct. 31.

But it was her performance on Friday, a 7 3/4-length romp in an open third-level allowance race, that made Copper State look really good. Copper State drew off through the stretch while racing well in hand and ran her record in two-turn dirt races to 3 for 3.

And now that Copper State has hit a peak - she's probably done for the year.

"I guess there's nothing for her now," said Hazelton, who said he'd at some point consider shipping Copper State to Mountaineer Park for a suitable stakes race, since there are no more Illinois-bred stakes until next April.

Illinois-bred Caruso also has made his last start until 2007. Caruso missed his appointed Illinois-bred stakes start with foot problems and is turned out until 2008.

Star by Design, another stakes-quality Hazelton horse, remains in active training and is scheduled to make a stakes start at Turfway Park later this month, Hazelton said.

* There is no featured race Wednesday at Hawthorne, and, in fact, Wednesday's program appears to be the most sparsely populated of the meet: Only 69 horses were entered on a nine-race card.