05/11/2006 11:00PM

Murphy hospitalized after spill

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Jockey Cindy Murphy appears to have avoided major injury in a spill that occurred shortly after the start of Thursday night's fifth race at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.

Murphy, 44, was aboard Ninnescah, who was bumped leaving the gate and stumbled badly, sending Murphy to the ground head first. Murphy was then struck in the head by one of Ninnescah's hind hooves. Murphy was unconscious on the track for several minutes and had no feeling in her arms or legs when she did regain consciousness, according to observers on the scene. She was taken by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.

X-rays revealed that Murphy had no broken bones, and by Friday afternoon she had regained feeling and had movement in her arms and legs.

According to Murphy's husband, Travis, she was expected to be transferred late Friday from the intensive care unit to the physical therapy section of the hospital, where she is expected to remain until at least the middle of next week.

Murphy was suffering from swelling of her spinal cord on Friday, which made her hypersensitive to stimulus to her hands and feet. Doctors were waiting for the swelling to subside before performing additional tests for any tendon or ligament damage in her neck area.

Murphy, who has also ridden under her maiden name, Cindy Springman, and as Cindy Noll during and after her first marriage, began her career in 1987 and has recorded 1,763 wins, with her mounts earning just short of $20 million in purses. Murphy won the first race ever held at Prairie Meadows in 1989. She has won two Prairie Meadows riding titles and was the leading female rider in the nation in 1994 with 189 wins.