Maybe Tio Wilson will come out of the gate on four legs in his next race, which might be this weekend.

Maybe Tio Wilson will come out of the gate on four legs in his next race, which might be this weekend.

"I don't know what's wrong," said Emilio Guerrero, owner and trainer of the promising quarter horse, who has reared at the gate during his last two outings. "He never does that when we work him in the morning."

This mount, incidentally, was named after Jim Wilson, the founder of radio station KAJO. Jim enjoyed horse racing and the food at Emilio's restaurant, El Patron. He once said that he wanted to be reincarnated as a racehorse, so Emilio christened the gray runner Tio (Uncle) Wilson.

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SONDRA GABRIEL is another trainer with a starting problem. Her thoroughbred Haint Calling didn't feel like leaving the gate last Saturday.

He went in first, then stood there a long while as the others loaded. When the gate finally opened, he just posed like he was waiting for his picture to be taken, Gabriel said.

"Everybody was shooing him, but he wouldn't go," she said. "Somehow he still got third."

Haint Calling may get another casting call this weekend.

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WE'VE HAD ONLY three days of racing, but several horses have already flirted with track records. The consensus is that the new trackman, Alphonso Collin, is behind these bursts of speed.

This week, longtime horseman Jerry Robinson gave high praise to Alphonso's work.

"He's the best there is," said Robinson. "Because of him the track is kind. The moisture just keeps coming up. Taking care of a track is like taking care of a cornfield."

Alphonso perfected his techniques in California. He has groomed tracks at Stockton, Sacramento, Fresno, Santa Anita and Ferndale.

"They're looking for me down at Ferndale now," he said.

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THE ACCIDENT last Sunday that disabled Terrance Birdrattler and Frank Williams has reduced the jockeys' ranks to eight, which leaves no margin for error.

Veteran jockey Ralph Garcia, now mostly retired, has been urged to ride to the rescue. He might do so, though he has a 52-year-old knee that would rather not.

Fortunately, racing secretary Nichelle Milner has Joe Crispin coming in from Emerald Downs and also Ashton Dale from the Washington fair circuit.

Dan Guthrie is freelance writer in Grants Pass