05/26/2007 12:00AM

Lakeman has spinal cord damage


Jockey Andrew Lakeman, involved in a spill at Belmont Park on Friday, remained in critical condition at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island Saturday with severe spinal cord damage and a fractured chest, according to New York Racing Association officials.

Lakeman, 32, was placed on a respirator Saturday morning. Lakeman did not have any head trauma, as originally feared.

"He is on a respirator," said Charles Hayward, NYRA's president and chief executive officer, who went to the hospital on Saturday along with NYRA's director of communications John Lee. "He's pretty heavily sedated, he's still critical, but he is stable and certainly much improved from his situation when he was admitted."

Meanwhile, jockey Norberto Arroyo Jr., involved in the same spill, suffered a broken collarbone and is expected to be out of action a minimum of six weeks. Arroyo, who was listed in stable condition at North Shore, was expected to be released from the hospital on Sunday.

According to Hayward, doctors would not speculate on whether Lakeman would be paralyzed.

"They're not making any prognosis or any projections," Hayward said.

Hayward said that doctors gave Lakeman two quarts of blood in a two-minute period of time on Friday.

"Normally it would take two hours, they did it in two minutes," Hayward said. "That gives you some idea of the magnitude of what they were dealing with."

Hospital officials were finally able to contact Lakeman's family members in England. Lakeman's parents were on vacation but were due back in England on Sunday. They were expected to come to New York as soon as possible.

Lakeman was injured when his mount, Our Montana Dream, clipped heels with Irish Senorita around the far turn of Belmont's fourth race on Friday. Lakeman was hurled hard to the firm turf, landing face first. Arroyo's mount, Lady Alice, fell over Our Montana Dream.