05/06/2004 11:00PM

Lopez saved by helmet after spill


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Jockey David Lopez, just released from Stanford Hospital after suffering a severe concussion in an April 29 spill, only wanted to do one thing Wednesday after an examination by Bay Meadows track physician Dr. David Seftel: see a tape of that race.

"I'm all right, but I don't remember too much about it," Lopez said. "I wanted to find a tape to see what happened."

Seftel said it's understandable Lopez can't remember the accident.

"He looks absolutely terrific, but he has complete amnesia from the time he went down till he got to the hospital," said Seftel, who found Lopez "severely concussed" and in need of a breathing device when he reached the fallen rider on the track. "He experienced cerebral shock and retrograde amnesia. He was extremely lucky given the velocity of the injury and the point on the injury."

Lopez, a 22-year-old native of Peru, uses what is described as a European helmet, which is a slightly larger helmet than most jockeys wear. Seftel thinks the helmet may have helped prevent a worse injury.

"I wear it because I like it," Lopez said. "It covers more of my head, and I feel comfortable using it."

Lopez fell when his mount, Perfect Judgment, apparently clipped heels going into the turn of a five-furlong turf sprint.

"If you have speed, you have to show it," said Lopez, whose mount was just inside the speedy Santano. But just inside of Lopez and Perfect Judgment, Danzhound was also showing speed.

"When you see you can't take the lead, you try to stay in the same spot, but it looked like my horse came out just a little," said Lopez, who appeared to be squeezed back just a bit before the spill.

Lopez is still suffering from some dizziness but has been taken off seizure medication. He was told to take another week off and will be examined again by Dr. Seftel next Wednesday.

"If everything goes well, I will be back next week," Lopez said. "Riding is my life. Staying at home, doing nothing, is not what I want to do."

* In his last race, Woody Haze caught Mayneunderfire and Tonco to win. He will try to beat those same rivals again in Sunday's feature race, a $32,000 claimer at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Woody Haze stalked those two front-runners last time and will employ the same tactics here.