11/13/2002 1:00AM

Thistledown track report


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Riders Lyndon Hannigan and Randy Wilson are good examples of how tough and determined a jockey has to be.

Hannigan, 45, has been a regular here for the past seven or eight years and was enjoying his best season before a series of incidents sidelined him for at least eight weeks. Hannigan was first hurt when a horse flipped in the gate injuring his leg.

Two days later his mount drifted out badly on the backstretch and hit the outside rail, sending Hannigan flying in the air. When he came down he landed on the rail, hitting his already-injured leg hard. He limped back into the jockeys' room, but rode out the card, winning one race.

The following day he won two more races before taking off the rest of his mounts. He then went to the hospital, where X-rays revealed that he had been riding with a broken bone in his leg.

Randy Wilson, 49, is a hard-working jock who rarely will refuse to ride any horse. He has been riding since 1966 and came to Thistledown with his father, C.M. Wilson, in 1968. C.M. trained here until retiring in 1995 and was generally regarded as the best "leg man" on the grounds.

C.M. died in his native Oklahoma last year. Randy's wife, Arianne, owns and trains Kashua, one of the fillies that C.M. bred.

Two races before Kashua was set to run in the last race on Nov. 2, Randy's mount flipped in the gate and banged up Randy's right leg, which he had injured in 1992 and in which he still has several screws and a plate. Randy rode the race, dismounted in noticeable pain, and hobbled back to the jockeys' room.

Instead of taking off of Kashua, Wilson came out and rode a perfect race, had his picture taken in the winner's circle, and was helped back to the room. He hasn't missed a day of riding since.

"What do you want me to say - I just ride," Wilson said. "If I'm hurting, I'm hurting. That's my job."

* Bill Couch, the track's racing secretary, said that over 200 horses have shipped in from the recently concluded meets at Great Lakes Downs and Fort Erie, and that his average field size of 8.4 horse per race is up slightly over last year.