02/02/2007 12:00AM

Santos sidelined; Dominguez injures knee

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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 two weeks because of swelling in his right knee. Jockey Eddie Martin, a third rider involved in the spill, was uninjured and expected to ride 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 was rolled onto by his horse. 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.

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

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.

Rita Santos, Jose's wife, added: "It was bad, and Jose knew it was bad, but he also knows it could have been worse. They moved him from the trauma center to his room at around 2:30 [Friday] morning. He is in a lot pain, but he is resting."

Sanabria said that Santos was scheduled to be moved to Long Island Jewish Hospital in New Hyde Park, N.Y., where Santos's regular doctors work, later Friday.

Dominguez, the leading rider at the inner-track meet with 67 wins, was taken to Jamaica Hospital as well. He was examined and released. Steve Rushing, Dominguez's agent, said doctors want to perform an MRI on Dominguez's right knee once the swelling goes down.