08/08/2007 12:00AM

Leeds returns to saddle


After spending nearly two years out of the saddle, jockey Damon Leeds is back and riding on a regular basis, splitting time in Nebraska and at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.

A native of Argyle, Iowa, Leeds began his riding career on the Kentucky circuit in fall 1989. He has ridden in Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and at the now closed Birmingham Race Course in Alabama. He spent some time in Saudi Arabia in 2004, where he won four races.

"I was getting burnt out fighting my weight and some personal problems," Leeds said of his time off. "I wanted to quit. But this is a way of life. After 17 or 18 years, I decided this is what I want to do. It's not just four days a week; you can't just diet four days a week. It's a way of life - it's more like eight days a week."

Leeds started out at Lincoln in June tacking over 125 pounds but has trimmed down to a riding weight of 118. On Sunday, he posted a four-win day at Columbus, which started out aboard Hamtaro ($12.40) for Larry Donlin Jr. in the second race. Leeds followed up with wins on Crafty J K ($16) in the third and Grand Cherokee ($8) in the fourth. He finished off his Sunday winners with Fulomagic ($4.80) in the sixth. On Tuesday he teamed up with Donlin again at Prairie Meadows aboard Thunder Time ($21.20).