Jockey Douglas Paralyzed in Lower Extremities
Jockey Rene Douglas came out of a seven-hour surgery at Northwestern Hospital May 24 without feeling in his lower extremities, and doctors there said the 42-year-old rider may not walk again, agent Dennis Cooper reported.
Douglas was worked on by a team of specialists who made efforts to repair compressed vertebrae and damage to the rider’s neck. But the main concerns centered on Douglas’ spinal cord, which may have been damaged by a fragment of splintered bone, Cooper said.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital said that Douglas was in fair condition following his surgery. Neither the hospital nor Arlington Park officials would release any details about his injuries, Associated Press reported.
Douglas was thrown from his mount in the Arlington Matron Handicap (gr. III) when the 4-year-old Born to Be was bumped by Sky Mom, clipped heels with Boudoir, and fell in upper stretch. Born to Be flipped and tossed Douglas over her head, then landed on top of the prone rider. Track workers had to drag the daughter of A.P. Indy off of Douglas before he could be transferred to a backboard. He was removed from the track via ambulance, as was his mount.
Cooper said he had been told that the horse, trained by Eric Coatreiux, had recovered from the incident. A spokesperson for Arlington Park said the filly returned to the barn and had not been euthanized on the day of the accident.
“She went straight down head over heels just like in slow motion,” Cooper said. “She hit him with her whole body, dropped there on top of him and just laid there.”
The filly remained on the track for several moments before being transferred to the equine ambulance. Sky Mom, who finished fifth, was disqualified for interfering with Born to Be and was placed last.
A naitve of Panama, Douglas has been the leading rider at Arlington six times (2001-2004 and 2007-2008) and holds the record for most consecutive titles at the Chicago track with four (2001-2004). This season, he was tied with E.T. Baird in the early contest for leading rider honors at the track with 15 wins going into the May 23 card.
Douglas has nearly 3,600 North American victories, including the 2006 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) with Dreaming of Anna and the 1996 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on Editor's Note. His mounts have earned more than $102 million through May 23.
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