Jockey Rene Douglas, one of the leading riders on the South Florida circuit in the early 1990's, has returned to his former base. He's named to ride three horses on Wednesday's program at Gulfstream Park. The 39-year-old Douglas, who has also enjoyed success in Illinois, has competed in Southern California more recently.But personal losses – first his brother about six months ago, and most recently his father less than one month ago – temporarily derailed his career."Mentally, I'm back," said Douglas, who recently returned to the United States from his native Panama following his father's funeral. "It was hard, losing my father, especially so close after my brother, but it's a part of life, and it has made me stronger. I've had time to heal, and I'm ready to go on now. That's the best I can do."It was my father who made me a jockey," said Douglas. "He owned and trained horses in Panama, and he got me started; but after I came to this country, I never had a chance to spend time with him because my business kept me here."When he got sick – he had cancer – I began to lose my focus. I wasn't mentally right, so I finally just went back home to Panama to be with him for a couple of months before he died Jan. 20. I'm very appreciative now of that time we had together."Douglas was the leading jockey at the 1993 Calder meet, and won six races on a single card at Calder in December of 1993 and July of 1995.In 1996, he rode Editor's Note to victory in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Shortly after switching his tack to Southern California less than two years ago, he was leading rider at Hollywood Park and second-leading rider at Santa Anita. He recorded his 3,000th career victory there during that time.But it was in the Midwest that Douglas enjoyed his greatest success so far. Beginning in the summer of 2001 and ending in the summer of 2004, Douglas was the leading rider for four straight years at Arlington Park.