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Aug 02, 2007

Jose Santos retires from racing


Saratoga Springs, NY (Sports Network) - Former champion jockey Jose Santos has announced his retirement from riding. The 46-year-old made the announcement Monday at Saratoga Race Course.

"I am extremely grateful for the career I've had, for the owners and trainers that had faith in me, to my fellow jockeys who helped bring out the best in me and to the fans for their support," said Santos. "Most of all, I am grateful to my family. They have always supported me, and it is tough because every time you ride a horse, you are in danger. They don't have to worry anymore, and that is a relief."

Santos, who was voted the Eclipse Award as top jockey in 1988, had been out of action since he was injured in February at Aqueduct. he suffered multiple fractures in a three horse incident.

"I had five fractures in my spine," said Santos, who also broke ribs in the spill. "Three of them were compression fractures of the (thoracic) vertebrae. The other two, the T-7 and T-8, were more serious fractures. My doctor said that the way they were pressing against the spinal cord, there would be an 80- percent chance that I could wind up in a wheelchair if I continued to ride."

The native of Chile won more than 4,600 races and earned better than $155 million in his career. He is probably best known as the rider of 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide, who was retired from racing earlier this month.

"It's only right that we go out together," Santos noted. "I just hope I find a job as good as his."

Santos will enter the Racing Hall of Fame next Monday after 23 years riding in the United States.

"This has been very hard for me, because I really wanted go out on my own terms," Santos said. "That didn't happen. I decided that I wanted to make this announcement today because I didn't want to take anything away from the Hall of Fame ceremonies."

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