12/13/2006 12:00AM

Injured Gondron hopes to return next month

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Jockey Ted Gondron has been noticeably absent this meet at Sam Houston Race Park. The track's all-time winningest rider, he is healing from leg and back injuries sustained in a spill in October. Gondron plans to resume riding this meet at Sam Houston, and said Wednesday he hopes to be back getting on horses in January.

Gondron was injured in a three-horse spill at Retama Park on Oct. 13. He broke the tibia and fibula in his left leg, and also fractured three lower lumbars in his back. Gondron, 35, also sustained injury to his tailbone, and has been recuperating at his home outside of Austin.

Gondron was aboard the second horse to fall in the chain-reaction spill.

"I remember vividly the horse falling in front of me, and really freaking out because it was really close and I was in really tight," he said. "I had nowhere to go, in or out, and I just knew. I remember hitting the ground, and it didn't really seem to hurt, and I remember the horse hitting me from behind and that's about it."

Gondron was taken to the Army hospital in San Antonio, and the day after the spill had a plate put in his leg. He said the leg has healed quite well, and he has not experienced pain in it. Gondron had his cast removed by doctors on Dec. 1. He has kept active walking on his crutches.

"I feel like I haven't lost much muscle tone," said Gondron.

Gondron was in the midst of a strong year when he was injured. He reached the career milestone of 2,000 wins early in the Retama meet, and was winning races at a 20 percent rate. Gondron has won a total of 514 races at Sam Houston.