02/03/2007 12:00AM

Santos to miss 4 to 6 weeks after spill

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Jockey Jose Santos will be out a minimum of four to six weeks after suffering two compressed vertebrae, two cracked ribs, and a possible broken nose as a result of a spill he was involved in at Aqueduct on Thursday.

Meanwhile, fellow rider Ramon Dominguez - who was involved in the same spill - will miss at least the next two weeks due to severe swelling in his right knee. Doctors will perform an MRI on Dominguez's knee, but want to wait until the swelling subsides to do it. Dominguez is the leading rider at Aqueduct's inner track meet with 67 wins.

Jockey Eddie Martin, a third rider involved in the spill, was uninjured and rode his five mounts at Aqueduct on Friday.

Santos, 45, was injured when his mount, For a Prayer, took a bad step and broke down entering the stretch of Thursday's eighth race. Santos was hurled to the ground extremely hard, and his horse rolled onto him. Are We Dreamin, ridden by Dominguez, fell over For a Prayer, while Street Sass, ridden by Martin, hurdled For a Prayer but fell over Are We Dreamin. For a Prayer, a 3-year-old daughter of Songandaprayer bred and owned by Hobeau Farm, broke her neck when she fell and died instantly. The other two horses were uninjured.

After Santos complained of back pain and difficulty breathing, he was removed from the track on a stretcher and taken via ambulance to nearby Jamaica Hospital, where the injuries were diagnosed.

Santos remained at Jamaica Hospital until late Friday afternoon, when he was expected to be transferred via ambulance to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., according to Santos's wife, Rita.

"It was bad, and Jose knew it was bad, but he also knows it could have been worse,'' Rita Santos said. "They moved him from the trauma center to his room at around 2:30 [Friday] morning.''

According to Frank Sanabria, Santos's agent, Santos will not need surgery. Santos cracked his vertebrae in a spill earlier in his career, Sanabria said.

Dominguez was also taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was examined and released. He went to see a specialist on Friday, but that doctor wanted to wait before doing an MRI, which would determine if there was any ligament damage to Dominguez's right knee. Dominguez returned to his Maryland home to be with his family on Friday.

"It's tough to miss any time, but it could have been a lot worse,'' said Steve Rushing, Dominguez's agent.

Gansevoort to miss Whirlaway

Gansevoort, a New York-bred son of Precise End who has won his first two starts by a combined 14 1/2 lengths, will be forced to miss next Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes due to a foot bruise, trainer Gary Contessa said.

Contessa said Gansevoort is one of several horses in his barn dealing with a foot bruise. Another is Accountforthegold, the Grade 3 Stuyvesant winner who has not been back to the track since finishing third in the Alex M. Robb Stakes on Dec. 31.

"I've never had so many foot problems in my life as I do now,'' Contessa said. "I've got five or six claiming horses with foot abscesses.''

Gansevoort would have been an interesting runner in the Whirlaway. He won a six-furlong maiden race by 6 1/4 lengths on Dec. 9 before stretching out successfully around two turns, winning a 1 1/16-mile, first-level statebred allowance race by 8o1/4 lengths. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 88 for that win.

"Gansevoort is on hold,'' Contessa said. "I don't know when he's going to run again. I thought he would have given them a run for their money in the Whirlaway.''

There was some good news for Contessa on Friday. He broke an 0-for-21 slump when Here to Please won the second race. It was Contessa's meet-best 40th win of the inner-track season.

'Lawrence' may go to Louisiana

Lawrence the Roman, another undefeated New York-bred who has won his three starts by a combined 25 1/4 lengths, worked six furlongs in 1:12.76 Friday over Aqueduct's inner track. Though trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. wants to run in the Whirlaway here next Saturday, owner Lawrence Roman would like to tackle bigger fish in the Grade 3, $300,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds on the same day.

"I really want to go in a graded stakes race to try and get some graded earnings,'' Roman said Friday from Gulfstream. "Rick's very comfortable at Aqueduct; that's the owner-trainer type of discussions that are going on. Right now, we're 50-50.''