05/03/2007 11:00PM

Son's accident keeps Wilson in B.C.


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Jockey David Wilson is off to a good start at the meet. He won a couple of races last weekend, including a well-timed ride aboard Stephanson, who upset Ookashada in the colts and geldings division of the CTHS Sales Stakes last Sunday.

Wilson has an excellent chance of winning another stakes race Sunday. He rides Monashee in the Brighouse Belles where she figures to be a heavy favorite.

Wilson wasn't planning on being at Hastings this year. Although he's been among the top riders at Hastings since he set a record for wins by an apprentice in 1994, Wilson had made plans to ride at Woodbine and secured the services of Justin Stein's agent, Trapper Barroby.

The move to Ontario and a lot of other things for Wilson and his family changed dramatically when he was driving to work early one morning in March.

Wilson was on his way to Canmor Farms to exercise horses when he saw his son's car sitting upside down in a ditch. He found his son, Jeremy, lying seriously injured outside of the car.

"Jeremy had fallen asleep and then slid off the side of the road into a ditch," Wilson said. "When the ditch came to an end where it met a driveway, the impact threw Jeremy out of the car. I assume he landed on his head."

Jeremy, 20, is considered a quadriplegic, but according to Wilson, he has the use of his arms and hands.

"He can still use his arms to get in and out of his wheelchair and cars, so he can lead a relatively normal life," Wilson said. "The doctors told him that he will have to rely on his mind and hands now. They also told him he was pretty lucky because a lot of people that get the same kind of injury don't have use of their hands."

Wilson has been the leading rider at Hastings four times, but with a 20 percent reduction in purses and also 10 less racing days this year, he was hoping to catch on at Woodbine where they run for some of the biggest purses in North America.

"I was all set to go before this happened," Wilson said. "The main thing right now is to get Jeremy settled. His attitude is good and that's a big plus. Hopefully, it stays good. The doctors told us he would be up and down. The main thing is that he keeps working at it."

Jeremy worked at the track as a groom and as an assistant on the starting gate. After he's finished with rehabilitation therapy, he'll make a decision on a career change.

"He'll be in G F Strong Rehab Centre for another four to six months," Wilson said. "After that he'll be analyzed to see what he wants and is able to do."

Wilson wanted to thank the people at the racetrack who have been so supportive of him and his family.

"One of the things they did was pitch in and get Jeremy a laptop computer," he said. "It's been very helpful. It's given him something to do while he's in hospital."

Jeremy was at the races for opening day and appeared to be in good spirits.

"He enjoyed being at the track where everyone knows him," Wilson said. "It was good to get him out of the hospital. He was pretty tired for the next couple of days, though."

Monashee recovers from illness

Monashee figures to be a heavy favorite in the Brighouse Belles on Sunday. Her trainer, Tracy McCarthy, is just happy to get her back to the races.

After winning the City of Edmonton Distaff at Northlands Park last August, Monashee came down with some sort of illness that developed into plural pneumonia.

"Considering what she went through and that we had a question mark about what sort of damage was done to the lungs, we see no difference," McCarthy said. "We'll just go from there. She worked three-quarters, hasn't turned a hair, and comes back squealing."

That's bad news for the connections of horses that will be facing Monashee at Hastings this year. Before she was turned out, Monashee dominated the older filly and mare division. She carried 125 pounds when she won the British Columbia Cup Distaff and also in her 5 1/4-length romp in the City of Edmonton Distaff. She gets a break under the allowance conditions of the Brighouse Belles and will shoulder 122 pounds.

"She seems like she's back to her old self," McCarthy said. "We'll just see how it goes Sunday and go from there."

Longstaff sends four in one race

Trainer Tom Longstaff trains four of the seven 2-year-olds entered in the second race at Hastings on Sunday. None will be coupled, including Heart to Spare and Spirit of the Game, who are both owned by Double Down Stable. That wouldn't have been the case last year, but a rule change over the winter allows them to run as separate wagering interests.

The new rule states that when there are less than seven separate betting interests in a maiden special weight, allowance, stakes, or handicap race, those horsed may run uncoupled but only if there are no more than two entered to race.