Derby Jockey Profile: Rene Douglas
Rene Douglas' brother died in 2005, and his father passed away after losing a battle with cancer in early January of 2006. Douglas took two months off from riding to attend to those personal matters in his native Panama, but by February he was back at Gulfstream Park. By the end of 2006, he had won his first Breeders' Cup race aboard eventual Eclipse Award winner Dreaming of Anna in the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. i). In 2007 he won grade I races including the Ashland and Beverly D. He won't let anything stop him.
Douglas, who began riding in the U.S. in 1983 after a year and a half of riding in Panama, describes himself as a highly competitive person who is brutally forthright - "Probably the most honest jockey on the racetrack." He has won three riding titles at Calder and Hialeah, and five riding titles at Arlington Park. In 2004, he successfully moved his tack to Southern California and won the 2004 Hollywood Park riding title. He won the 1996 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) aboard Editors Note.
Career wins: 3,427
Born: March 3, 1967, Panama City, Panama
Residence: Miami, Fla.
Family: wife Natalia, sons Michael, Giancarlo and Christian.
Favorite sport: "I like to watch boxing, but I’d say soccer is my favorite. I did everything when I was a kid – I’m a pretty good athlete. The only thing I didn’t play was golf, and now I’m playing that, too.”
Favorite food: "Spanish food"
Most Hated Chore: “I don’t really have time to do much around the house. I don’t like to pay the bills. I just hand the checks to my wife and she does the rest. All I need is my American Express card, and I’m set.”
I can’t live without: “My family, they’re number one. I’m most happy when I’m with them. I also like to travel, so I guess when I’m traveling with my family is when I’m really happy.”
The fastest I’ve ever driven was: “150 miles per hour. I’m a good driver but I like to test myself; I don’t look for trouble or drive fast as a hobby, but if there are no police around I might speed up real quick just for the rush.”
Another active rider I admire is: “Anyone who provides me with competition. When I see other good jocks, it pushes me to another level. I’m a competitive guy and I look for that special competition, riders like Prado and Velazquez and Desormeaux and Gomez.”
If I could trade careers with any other athlete, I would be: “That’s a good question. I’m not sure. This is a tough sport, though. I’m not sure if I would do it again, but now I’m hooked and I love riding.”
One thing I wish people knew about jockeys: “A lot of people need to know the truth about jocks. They look at us in a different way than reality. They think we ride, make a lot of money, and go home. But it’s not like that. It’s a tough sport. What about the guys that don’t make money? Sure, on TV they make it look beautiful, but it’s not always that way.”
The Best thing about winning this year’s Derby would be: “I don’t know what will happen. It’s something really special when you win; you have no idea what will happen until that moment."
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