02/04/2005 12:00AM

Boyd critical but improving

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Jockey Josh Boyd suffered a fractured skull and fractured ribs when he was thrown from his mount and subsequently hit in the head by another horse during the seventh race at Sunland Park on Jan. 30.

Boyd has undergone brain surgery and is improving, said Glen Murphy, a fellow rider and a Jockeys' Guild representative at Sunland.

Murphy visited Boyd, 29, on Thursday and said the rider was listed in critical but stable condition at Thomason Hospital in El Paso, Texas. Boyd suffered swelling in his brain as a result of the spill, and the surgery involved removing a front piece of his brain to relieve swelling. As of Thursday, the swelling had reduced by 50 percent, said Murphy.

"He's going in the right direction," said Murphy. "We're optimistic."

Murphy said a fund is being set up for Boyd through the hospital. "The jockeys in the room are also getting some money together," said Murphy.

Boyd's hospital bills are expected to exceed the $100,000 track insurance policy at Sunland.