01/07/2003 12:00AM

Amy seeks license to ride again

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Next month, Jose Amy will make a fourth attempt at getting a second chance. This time, he appears to have the support of the New York racing community.

Amy, a jockey who has been banned from race-riding since 1980 for his part in a mid-1970's race-fixing scandal, will apply in the first week of February to the New York State Racing and Wagering Board for a jockey's license. It will be the third straight year and fourth time since 1990 that he has applied for reinstatement.

Though Amy has been denied all four times, he did receive an exercise rider's license in 2001. Amy, 49, has been exercising horses on the Belmont backstretch for the last two years. He currently works for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

When submitting his application, Amy said on Tuesday that he will also submit a petition signed by 40 New York trainers, including Allen Jerkens, Jimmy Jerkens, Mike Hushion, John Kimmel, and P.G. Johnson, attesting to Amy's "impeccable character and professional work ethic."

"The only way his integrity and rehabilitation can be proven is by allowing him to ride again in New York," Amy said, reading from the petition. "We beg you to allow this fine man to show you how qualified he is."

Amy has the support of NYRA chairman Barry Schwartz, for whom Amy rode the stakes-winning Degenerate John in 1978.

"He was a very scared young boy that just fell in with the wrong crowd. He's paid his dues," Schwartz said. "I just don't think it should be forever."

Amy's license was suspended on May 13, 1980, by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, which determined that he accepted several bribes from former jockey Con Errico to hold his horses. Amy, on two occasions, rejected Errico's request, but later relented, according to published reports, on the threat of "Mafia retribution."

In denying his 1990 application for reinstatement, the board wrote that "on seven occasions from 1974-75, Jose Amy accepted bribes to hold back horses."

Amy admits he made a mistake, but believes he has paid his dues. "I learned a lot from my mistakes, I regret every second, every minute of it," he said.

"When you learn from your mistakes. it's not a mistake, it's a lesson. I know I still can make it in New York, in the big leagues. I want to show the public this is Jose Amy, not that young naive boy of 20 years ago. The only way you can judge me is see me in action."