05/27/2009 12:00AM

Luark badly injured in spill


Jockey Mike Luark is expected to be out for as long as a year after being involved in a spill in last Sunday's first race at State Fair Park.

Luark was aboard Grandeza in the mile-and-70-yard race and was moving along the rail when he was shut off and clipped heels late on the backstretch. The horse fell, knocking out a section of the inner railing while Luark landed heavily on the track and rolled several times. Luark suffered a broken vertebra and underwent surgery Monday morning in Lincoln to have a rod inserted in his back.

Jose Ranilla, tied for second in the rider standings, was aboard Forenglishpressone in that race. He was ruled to be responsible for causing the spill and was handed a six-day suspension that will begin this weekend.

* Damon Leeds made a limited return to riding last weekend, winning a pair of races from five starts, and should begin riding full time this week. Leeds was injured on closing day at Fonner Park when a horse flipped in the gate, injuring Leeds's ribs.

Leeds tried coming back earlier in the meet but was forced to take off his mounts because of rib pain. He is closing in on 1,000 career wins, and as of Wednesday was 16 short of reaching that milestone. He was involved in the race for leading rider at Fonner Park, but the injury early on the closing-day card opened the way for Jesus Ponce and Chris Fackler to share the title with 42 wins each. Leeds finished third with 39 wins.

The return of Leeds will be of great help as the colony dwindled to about 10 riders after the opening three weeks of the season. Mark Boag has moved his tack to Arapahoe Park in Colorado, while Henry Guillory is riding at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.