03/30/2004 1:00AM

Turfway horseman injured

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Clyde Bramble, a longtime jockey and trainer who recently had been working as an exercise rider, underwent emergency surgery Tuesday in Cincinnati after nearly losing an arm in a training accident at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.

Bramble, 59, was airlifted to University Hospital in Cincinnati, where doctors attempted to reattach part of an arm that had been nearly severed in the accident. According to Valerie Leeke, Bramble's ex-wife, who is employed at River Downs, Bramble was heavily sedated Tuesday afternoon.

"All vital signs are good," she said. "The doctors had to take a vein out of his leg and put it in his arm to reattach the tendons and nerves. They aren't sure if their procedure worked but should know more [Wednesday]."

Leeke said doctors also suspected that Bramble might have suffered bleeding in his brain, but that CAT-scan results were not yet available.

According to one observer, Bramble was galloping a horse when the reins broke and the horse bolted to the outer rail just past the finish line. Bramble was thrown off the horse and apparently struck a support post on the outer rail, causing major trauma to his arm.

Bramble was a jockey for more than 20 years, riding primarily at Turfway, River Downs, and Detroit Race Course. He turned to training in 1985 and has won 120 races since. In recent months he had been exercising horses in Florida and Kentucky.

Bramble's injury comes less than two months since the death of jockey Mike Rowland from head injuries suffered in a race at Turfway.