06/13/2006 11:00PM

Murphy retires with injury

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ALTOONA, Iowa - Jockey Cindy Murphy, who was seriously injured in a spill leaving the starting gate at Prairie Meadows on May 11, has announced her retirement.

Murphy, who rode under her maiden name as Cindy Springman from 1987 to 1989 and as Cindy Noll during and after her first marriage from 1990 to 2005, suffered spinal cord injuries after her mount Ninnescah stumbled badly leaving the gate, sending Murphy head first to the ground. Ninnescah's hind hooves caught Murphy in the head area after she was unseated.

Murphy has full use of both her arms and legs but faces a long recovery period.

"I'm feeling stronger every day," she said, "but I still have significant numbness and pain in both of my hands and arms."

Murphy, 44, will remain in a neck brace for the next several weeks and is in a rehabilitation program. Doctors warned Murphy that another fall could lead to permanent paralysis. A silent auction to benefit Murphy will be held as part of the Prairie Meadows Race Track Chaplaincy's annual picnic Friday morning at 11 a.m. in the track kitchen.

Murphy retires with 1,833 career Thoroughbred victories, third on the all-time list of female jockeys, behind only Julie Krone and Patti Cooksey. Murphy was the nation's leading female rider by wins in both 1994 and 1998. Murphy won the first race ever conducted at Prairie Meadows, on March 1, 1989, and has captured three Prairie Meadows riding titles. She is the all-time leading female rider at Oaklawn Park.

"I wanted to hit 2,000 wins before I retired, and I'm a little disappointed that isn't going to happen," she said.

Murphy is living in Oklahoma with her three children and her husband, Travis Murphy, and will not be able to attend Friday's fund-raiser.

"Before this happened, my kids were concerned about my health and that I would have another spill. They support my decision to retire," she said. "My family is my main concern."

Friday's auction will include several stallion seasons, a jersey autographed by the 2003 Breeders' Cup jockeys, and many other items donated by Prairie Meadows and other tracks from around the country.