After Hollywood Title, Douglas Focuses on Santa Anita

Rene Douglas, coming off his first Southern California riding title at Hollywood Park's autumn meeting, can be counted on for more of the same during the 85-day Santa Anita Park season, his agent says.

Actually, Douglas might have two Southern California riding championships under his belt instead of the one he just captured, where he edged Tyler Baze, 37 wins to 35, agent Bob Meldahl contends.

"At Oak Tree, we missed the riding title by three and had a six-day drought or we would have had a very good chance to win," he said. "We got lucky and won at Hollywood through hard work, perseverance and Rene's professionalism. We're very happy the way things have gone."

Meldahl, who directed the career of Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. for more than a decade before injuries forced Pincay to retire nearly two years ago, joined forces with Douglas last fall after the 37-year-old jockey switched to Southern California following a successful run on the Chicago circuit.

"It was the perfect time for Rene to come here," Meldahl said. "There's no Laffit, there's no (Eddie) Delahoussaye, there's no (Chris) McCarron anymore. There are still great riders here – Victor Espinoza, Tyler Baze, Mike Smith, Kent Desormeaux and Corey Nakatani – but quite obviously, Rene is a professional and fits very well."

With Nakatani presently serving a 30-day suspension and injured Alex Solis not expected to resume riding until February, more doors than usual figure to be open for Douglas, who has 2,987 career wins.

"I think we'll still be successful," Meldahl said. "I don't know if we'll be as successful as we were at Hollywood, but I don't see why business should taper off. It should only get better."