05/21/2001 12:00AM

Thorne, trainer, is dead at 72


MUSKEGON, Mich. - Trainer William Thorne died at Mercy Hospital Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack while attending the races. Thorne, 72, kept a string of eight runners at Great Lakes Downs.

Thorne was retired from a 25-year career as a Wayne County deputy sheriff. While a deputy, he started a racing stable, said James Sluss, who rode for Thorne for many years. Sluss said that Thorne began training Thoroughbreds in the 1950's and raced primarily in Detroit and the nearby tracks.

Sluss said that Thorne was in his usual spot at the grandstand when he was stricken during the running of the fourth race. Dancing Laddie, a 3-year-old colt he trains for West Hawk Stable, had finished third in the previous race. Thorne is survived by his wife, Mavis, and a brother and sister.