09/22/2005 11:00PM

Wilson, 85, has stable on a roll lately


FORT ERIE, Ontario - There are still no signs that trainer John Wilson, at 85, is slowing down.

Wilson, known to the racing fraternity as Jack, scampered to the winner's circle when Cielavia won the eighth race on Tuesday. It was his 12th visit of the year, getting him to No. 10 in the trainer standings.

A more noteworthy fact is that Cielavia was the fourth winner Wilson had in five starts, beginning on Sept. 11. On that day, Jet Engine was in a dead heat for win in the first race and barnmate Sweet Lil Punky scored in the sixth.

The following day, Imamyto finished second for Wilson under jockey Dale Hemsley.

"We would have been 5 for 5 had Dale not broken his whip on Imamyto," Wilson said. "His whip broke when he took the lead at the head of the stretch. He was three lengths in front. He just got nipped at the wire."

Wilson's other victory came on Monday with Roan River Dance in a maiden special weight for 2-year-old fillies.

Wilson had 14 wins at Fort Erie last year and 11 the year before.

Wilson was a late starter in racing - he got into it when he was 54. A sale of farmland to Ontario Hydro in 1974 provided the opportunity.

His first venture, near Toronto, was a training center he built, complete with a swimming pool for horses. Later he bought a farm in Florida and did some breeding on a small scale.

Wilson went on to build and operate the swimming pool that faces the Fort Erie track. He said he's a big believer in the role that swimming can play in the conditioning of runners, especially if they are not the soundest kind.

Top quarter-milers sit this one out

The two best quarter-milers at Fort Erie will not be in action on Tuesday when the latest two-furlong dash for males takes place.

Six of these contests have been held at this meet, with Mr. Niner and Thats the Problem winning three apiece. Both were claimed out of the last dash on Sept. 6.

The dashes, all of them at the $12,500 claiming level, are run at three-week intervals. Under racing rules in Ontario, a claimed horse cannot run for 30 days unless the race is at a level at least 25 percent higher than his purchase price. The two speedsters will have to wait for the next go-around to compete in their specialty.

"Everyone's going to take a shot because the two big horses are out of there," said trainer Bob Williams, whose Bermuda Triangle was second to Thats the Problem in the last outing. "My runner is the fastest, and they will have to catch him."

Thats the Problem went to Williams's barn after the trainer won the shake for him.

"I've sent Thats the Problem to West Virginia, where he'll have a little rest," Williams said. "He might run at Mountaineer Park."

New OTB in Niagara Falls

Fort Erie has added a fifth location to its Longshots Off Track Betting network. It's on the second floor of the old Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls.

"It's called the Sports Section," said Daryl Wells, media and communications director as well as the track announcer. "There's a mix of slot machines nearby, as well as a poker room and a bar. It's open daily at noon."