04/08/2003 11:00PM

Thistledown track report


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - With 14 days of the meet in the books, the expected battle for leading trainer between Thistledown's all-time leader Gary Johnson and northern California's top conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer has materialized, with Johnson holding a 14-13 edge. In the thick of the fight is Rodney Faulkner with 12 victories.

Hollendorfer began the meet with 42 horses stabled here under the care of assistant Tom Roberts, but that number has been reduced to 29. Johnson has claimed eight of Hollendorfer's horses and five others have been claimed by other trainers.

Jockey Mike Rowland got off to slow start but has found his best form and now has a one-win edge over Lyndon Hannigan, 16-15. Rowland has won more meets at Thistledown than any other jockey. Hannigan had a career year in 2002 and was off to a fast start this season but will spend the next 15 days serving a suspension.

He was handed the long suspension by the stewards "for an extremely careless ride," said state steward Allen Fairbanks.

* A Thistledown bettor, who has requested that he not be identified, hit Santa Anita's pick six Sunday and cashed for more than $700,000, the largest single payout in Thistledown history. There were a total of three winning tickets on the Santa Anita pick six, and each paid $661,283. The Thistledown bettor spent $576 on his ticket. Thistledown bettors have hit for big money before. In the Breeders' Cup pick seven in 1991, there were 11 winning tickets bought at Thistledown, each worth $227,164.

Five large across the board bets have recently been made here, three of $2,000 and two for $1,000. Three have been on the Thistledown races and two on its 7 & 7 partner Beulah Park. All three of the Thistledown bets and one of the Beulah bets were on winning horses.

* Rider Hubert Villa-Gomez, a native of Peru who is riding here for the first time, sustained a broken wrist when his mount went down last Thursday. He was Beulah Park's leading rider last year and is in second place this year.

* Steward Kim Sawyer suffered a broken bone in her right foot when she took a misstep while leaving the stewards' stand to watch a race. Sawyer, an ex-rider, finished out the day and was on crutches the following morning.