01/31/2005 1:00AM

Boulanger has surgery

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Jockey Gary Boulanger remained in critical condition Monday after undergoing surgery Sunday evening to remove his spleen and relieve pressure on his brain. Boulanger, 37, was injured in a spill during Sunday's $100,000 at Gulfstream Park when his horse, In Hand, broke down approaching the far turn of the Grade 3 turf race.

According to Corey Moran, Boulanger's agent, the rider came through both surgeries well, and although heavily sedated, was responding to commands from his doctors on Monday morning.

"Right now we're deeply concerned but optimistic, since Gary has been moving his arms and legs and has been responsive to the doctor's commands," Moran said. "They are still waiting for the swelling to come down, which is why he remains critical, but they said his vital signs are good, he seems to be improving, and that his condition right now is on the upswing."

In Hand, who broke down approaching the three-eighths pole of the 1 3/8-mile Mac Diarmida, was euthanized on the track.

Jockey Eddie Castro, who rode Macaw, was thrown from his horse after altering course to avoid the stricken horse and rider. Neither Castro nor Macaw suffered any apparent injuries.

Boulanger missed nearly the entire 1999 season after fracturing vertebrae in a spill at Gulfstream.

Host rallied from off the pace to run down the pacesetting Navesink River and win the Mac Diarmida.