Douglas Back in Saddle as New Year Begins

Jockey Rene Douglas, banned from Calder Race Course in south Florida for unknown reasons, was back in the saddle Jan. 1, riding James DiVito-trained Gostoso to a seventh-place finish in the seventh race at Hawthorne.

Despite action by Calder officials to bar Douglas from riding, Hawthorne management permitted him to ride at the Illinois track. But Jan. 1 was also the last day of Hawthorne’s winter meet (their spring meet begins Feb. 24), leaving the jockey to continue his search for welcoming tracks after Gulfstream Park officials said they would honor Calder’s ban.

Gulfstream Park will also enact its right as a private property owner to prohibit jockeys banned from Tampa Bay race track and Philadelphia Park from riding on the premises.
Douglas, Jose Bracho, Jorge Bracho, Derek Bell, Luis Castillo, Jose Delgado, Terry Houghton, Joseph Judice, Ricardo Valdes and Alex Beitia will not be permitted to ride at Gulfstream when live racing begins Jan. 3, although they have not been suspended or charged with any particular offense.

"We can't operate blindly," Hawthorne track president Tim Carey had previously said about the decision to permit Douglas to ride. "Unless we are given a ruling, or are presented significant information on the issue that is preventing the riders in question from being allowed to compete at these tracks, we will not pass judgement. They will be viewed in good standing."

Douglas and Jose Bracho were ruled off at Calder on Dec. 15 and 16, respectively, Jorge Bracho, Bell, Castillo, Delgado, Houghton, Judice and Valdes were banned from Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 19, and Beitia was denied access by Philadelphia Park on Dec. 19.

Herbie Rivera, a representative for the Jockeys' Guild, said some of the jockeys ejected from Tampa are pursuing employment as exercise riders in an effort to make ends meet, while others are sitting tight as recommended by their legal counsel.