Rene Douglas

Rene Douglas

Four Footed Fotos

Douglas Thanks Supporters as He Resumes Fight

Champion jockey is currently paralyzed from the chest down after May 24 fall.

Jockey Rene Douglas, who was seriously injured in a May 23 racing accident at Arlington Park, has issued his first statement since the accident occurred. Douglas, who is currently paralyzed from the chest down, sent a letter to the 3,527-member Facebook group “Rene Douglas Get Well Card,” in which he voiced his appreciation to the racing community.

“I want to thank you for all your support, your prayers and all your messages,” Douglas wrote June 30. “I’ve been getting stronger every day with the help of my family and friends and I will give my best once I go back to rehab. The road ahead of me will be long and hard but I’m ready to face it and to do the best I can to complete it and to achieve the best results possible.”

Doctors still maintain hope that Douglas may make a full or partial recovery as he heals from extensive spinal surgery performed May 24 at Northwestern University Hospital in Chicago. The jockey sustained broken vertebrae in his neck, compressed vertebrae in his lower back, several broken ribs, and a fractured sternum when his mount, Born To Be, clipped heels and fell on him during the Arlington Matron (gr. III) at Arlington Park in Chicago.

Douglas developed pneumonia following surgery, but recovered and made enough progress to be moved to the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. He suffered a setback June 21 when the infection returned in his left lung. Doctors transferred him back to Northwestern and drained about a liter of fluid from the lung, and he returned to RIC on June 30.

“I’ve been trying to start therapy but I’ve had a few issues with my lungs and that has prevented me from starting rehab in full,” Douglas wrote. “Just know that I appreciate … your support (which) inspires me every day to continue and to give my all.”

A golf tournament will be held July 20 at Indian Lakes Golf Course in Bloomingdale, Ill., to benefit Douglas. The 42-year-old native of Panama was 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).