07/26/2002 12:00AM

Things starting to turn around for Wilson


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Just two months ago, Campbell Wilson was pondering his future.

Things looked bleak for the 26-year-old Wilson, who had obtained his trainer's license in late September at Fort Erie.

Wilson had formed a small syndicate late last year and over the winter purchased four horses at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to race in the claiming ranks at Fort Erie. As the season here unfolded, however, the runners met little success.

"I was a little nervous at the start," admitted Wilson. "It cost a lot of money to ship horses across America. And I had to sell a horse I didn't really want to sell, just to keep going.

"My filly, Chandrika, needed some time and I had a bit of bad luck with Oh Mar at the starting gate," added Wilson, a Niagara Falls, Ont., native who started working at the racetrack as soon as he graduated from high school.

In Oh Mar's third start for his new barn, he finally broke Wilson's goose egg on June 15, paying $50.90 for his score. It was the sixth runner Wilson had sent to the post. With two subsequent wins, Wilson has a 3-for-11 record going into the fourth race Saturday, in which Oh Mar will try and make amends for his most recent race, a last-place finish when he blew the start.

"Oh Mar is 6 - a little past his prime," said Wilson. "He's won 9 of 43 races and earned $144,000. He's strictly a sprinter who needs the lead. The gate problems have really cost." Oh Mar is dropping back in for $7,500, the level of his last win, after trying $10,000 claimers July 16. Tyler Gaskin returns to ride him.

Though Wilson (6-foot-1, 150 pounds) couldn't fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a jockey - his present, for his 10th birthday, was riding lessons at a local farm - he has become a respected exercise rider and that led to his present vocation.

Wilson won with the first horse he saddled, Boo Who, at Fort Erie last October and his only other runner at that meeting finished off the board.

His experience includes work stints with three of the Fort's leading trainers in win percentages - Layne Giliforte, Justin Nixon, and Chris Tuttle.

Le Cinquieme Essai's future

Although Le Cinquieme Essai, winner of last Sunday's Prince of Wales, is eligible for in-house stakes requiring two previous Fort Erie starts at the meeting there is little likelihood of him pursuing that course, said his trainer Paul Nielsen.

"He came out of the Wales race better than he did the turf race [an allowance win at Woodbine July 7]," said Nielsen. "His next race could be the Breeders' Stakes."

The Breeders Stakes is the third and final leg of Canada's Triple Crown. The $500,000, 1 1/2-mile race at Woodbine, Aug. 10 is on the turf. "He's very versatile," said Nielsen. "From watching his races I believe he is even better on the grass than on the dirt. I'm still learning about him."

* On Tuesday, the inaugural running of the $55,000 Blazing Sevens stakes will be held. The open six-furlong race has drawn 34 nominations. The second of four scheduled Wednesday programs goes this week. The Wednesday cards are being offered at two-week intervals.