10/25/2005 12:00AM

Suffolk jockey in coma


Jockey Michel Lapensee underwent surgery for head injuries Monday night and was in an induced coma, his condition critical, Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital after his mount broke down in Monday afternoon's ninth race at Suffolk Downs.

Lapensee, 58, was unconscious when he was taken from the track by ambulance. His mount, Mecke's Money, suffered a compound fracture of the left front cannon bone approaching the three-eighths pole of the $4,000 claiming race. Lapensee was thrown to the track and then stepped on by trailing horses. Mecke's Money was later euthanized.

In addition to the emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, Lapensee was also treated for a collapsed lung, spinal cord injuries, and multiple skull and facial fractures, according to a family friend who accompanied him to the hospital.

Lapensee, originally from Quebec, has been a regular on the New England circuit for more than 20 years. He was forced into short retirements over the past decade with heart and weight problems, but had worked his way back to the Suffolk colony, booking his own mounts. He has long been the first-call jockey for owner-trainers Richard and Mary Ann Fruzzetti.