Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Douglas Sharing ‘All The Tools’ With Next Generation

Former jockey Rene Douglas admits he “wasn’t doing much” after the 2009 accident that stole the use of his legs. The emotional toll must have been indescribable. In a split second, he went from a leading rider and winner of nearly 3,600 races to being paralyzed from the chest down. 

Through more than six months in the hospital, numerous setbacks, and the following years of therapy, horse racing’s unique siren song continued to pull at Douglas. 

In 2010, he put together a group of friends and purchased a colt trained in his native Panama named Golden Moka. In his first start for Douglas’ partnership, Golden Moka won the $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie Race Track in Ontario.

It would prove to be a lucky race for Douglas, the owner; he won it again in 2014 with Coltimus Prime. A son of Milwaukee Brew bred in Ontario, Coltimus Prime shifted his base to Panama in 2017 and shortly thereafter won the country’s biggest race, the Group 1 Clasico Presidente de la Republica.

That day, Coltimus Prime was ridden by a 16-year-old apprentice jockey who was just one win short of his journeyman’s license. Angel Rodriguez rode a perfect race in the Presidente, leaving an indelible impression on Douglas, and was later named Panama’s apprentice of the year.

Still, though he owned talented horses like Private Zone and others, Douglas had a hard time watching races. The intense competitive drive he developed during his career as a jockey just wouldn’t go away.

He was living in Florida for most of the year, spending a couple months out of the summer in Chicago, his favorite city. He watched Rodriguez travel to Dubai, then Indiana, but felt the winner of more than 200 races in Panama wasn’t achieving his potential.

This year, Douglas finally decided he was ready for a more active role in the racing game; he got his license as an agent and is now representing Angel Rodriguez in South Florida. 

The duo won their first start together at Gulfstream Park on March 7.

“It feels good to see all the trainers who help me during my career,” Douglas said. “You know, winning my first day as an agent, the first horse we rode… I think I was riding more than him watching the race on my couch! I almost got up out of the chair. It was exciting winning, to see that kid winning again.”

Douglas is the first to admit that being an agent is a lot harder than he thought it would be.

Angel Rodriguez aboard Coltimus Prime after the Presidente

“I told [my former agent, Dennis] Cooper the other day, ‘If I knew this was going to be this hard, I would have given you half my check,’” Douglas said, laughing good-naturedly. “But when I was riding I always liked hustling. I like to find winners, and I like to watch races. It made me feel good when I went after a horse I wanted to ride and I win, like I did my homework. I know I’ve got all the tools to win races, I just need luck and to work hard.”

Relishing his new niche alongside the 19-year-old Rodriguez, Douglas has found himself enjoying watching the races again. 

“In the beginning it’s gonna be tough because I’ve been out of the game for a long time, but once I get to know the horses, I’m gonna be okay,” he explained. “When I was riding, I had some top agents – Tony Matos, Richard DePass, and Dennis Cooper… Each one had a different way of doing things, but if I can pick up a little bit of each of them, I’ll be a champion.”

Douglas said that Rodriguez’ youth was a challenge in the beginning of their relationship, but the rider has now fully embraced Douglas’ role as mentor.

“Look, he’s got all the tools to become good, but I had to help him realize it’s not a game,” Douglas said. “I know he’s young, but if you wanna do this you have to become a man quick. I guess he listened to me, so far so good.”

If there’s one thing Douglas wants out of his evolution into an agent, it’s to be successful. His competitive drive still runs hot, and while he knows Rodriguez has the talent, he expects the jockey to put forth the effort.

“For me to do this again, he’s gotta be good. I’m not doing this for nothing,” Douglas said. “You know, it’s been good for me. I needed to do something. I just gotta win races in a different way now, I gotta win as an agent.”

The post Breeders’ Cup Presents Connections: Douglas Sharing ‘All The Tools’ With Next Generation appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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