May 25, 2009

Arlington Park jockey may be paralyzed

Arlington Park jockey Rene Douglas may not walk again after undergoing spinal surgery for seven hours for injuries at the Chicago-area track, his agent says.

Dennis Cooper, Douglas's agent, quoted a member of the surgical team as saying the racing veteran might never walk again, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

The six-time Arlington jockey champion suffered the injuries Saturday aboard Born to Be in the Grade III Arlington Matron Handicap. Down the stretch, Born to Be was boxed in behind the leaders, when she was bumped by Sky Mom on her inside, clipping front-running Boudoir. Born to Be fell and was knocked unconscious and rolled onto Douglas, the Tribune said.

Douglas, 42, underwent surgery Sunday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

It doesn't look good, Cooper said. They won't be a million percent sure until the swelling goes down and that isn't expected to be until about 10 to 14 days. His fifth and sixth vertebrae were compressed, his ribs were broken and there was damage to his neck, but the main damage is to the spinal cord.

Cooper said the doctors told him Douglas had feeling and movement in his upper body but not his legs.

Born to Be was euthanized, a track spokesman said Sunday.