10/21/2001 11:00PM

Carrero out 8-12 weeks

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Victor Carrero, one of the leading apprentice jockeys in the country, will be out two to three months after breaking his left ankle during a gate mishap Sunday at Belmont Park.

Carrero was aboard Showtime in the third race when that horse acted up in the gate and threw Carrero. Carrero was taken off the track on a stretcher and taken via ambulance to North Shore Hospital. He was fitted with a cast, and was to have surgery on Monday.

After throwing Carrero, Showtime got trapped underneath the starting and was scratched, one of three late scratches in the race. While trapped, he kicked Add It Up, who was next to him, forcing him to scratch.

Before that, Ninety Nine Mark had been ordered scratched by the track veterinarian after warming up insufficiently. Refunds in the race totaled more than $465,000.

The timing of the injury couldn't have been worse for Carrero. After finishing third in the Monmouth Park standings, Carrero is currently fourth in the standings at The Meadowlands. Since he began riding at Belmont, Carrero won six races from 60 mounts and had made a positive impression on New York horsemen. He figured to be one of the top apprentices this winter at Aqueduct.

This year, Carrero has won 118 races from 875 mounts with earnings of $2.7 million. Carrero has his apprentice allowance until Feb. 28, 2002, but is likely to receive an extension because of the injury.