Paddock to Post: Belmont Diary

By Michael-Louis Ingram, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: June 4, 2009

Belmont Stakes 2009 ELMONT, N.Y. (BASN) – Post positions for the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes were completed Wednesday afternoon. Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will go from Post No. 7 and is the early line 2-1 favorite to win the last jewel in the Triple Crown.

10 horses draw in for the Belmont, with repeat Crown horses Dunkirk, Luv Gov and Flying Private in the field. An estimated crowd of 50-70 thousand plan to be on hand to perhaps see the ‘Bird and jockey Calvin Borel gain the jockey Triple Crown – on multiple horses; the only jockey to ever achieve the feat should they cross the finish line first!

Get Well, Rene!

On a somber note, the harsh reality of the danger in thoroughbred racing strikes home with the recent injury of Rene Douglas, who was injured in a bad spill while riding at Arlington Park on May 23rd.

According to accounts by the Associated Press, Douglas was aboard Born to Be when he was hit by another horse, Sky Mom, during the Arlington Matron Handicap.

The horse clipped heels with another horse, Beaudoir, and fell at the top of the stretch. Born to Be flipped and tossed Douglas over her head, and she then landed on top of the rider.

Douglas is now breathing on his own after having been taken off a ventilator machine but still has not regained feeling in his legs after suffering an injury to his spinal cord.

Via additional information from the Daily Racing Form, Doreen Razo, wife of jockey Eddie Razo, and a close friend of Douglas’s wife, Natalie, said the breathing apparatus was removed from Douglas at 4:30 on Monday by medical staff at the trauma unit of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. So, for the first time since his accident, Douglas can speak.

“His request was for ice cream or Jell-O,” said Razo, who has been to Northwestern nearly every day since Douglas was moved there from Northwest Community Hospital near Arlington the evening he was hurt.

Douglas is “still in a little bit of pain,” Razo reported, but is being weaned from pain medications. He also has recovered from a case of pneumonia contracted after a seven-hour surgery was performed to repair fractures in vertebrae near Douglas’s neck, and to decompress and fuse the T-5 and T-6 vertabrae on his lower spine.

It was the latter injury that affected the spinal cord and caused paralysis. Doctors told Mrs. Douglas that it could take up to two weeks to fairly evaluate the long-term consequences of the spinal injury. Now that Douglas can communicate verbally, medical staff can find out more directly “what he can and can’t feel,” Razo said.

Jockey Jamie Theriot, who was aboard Sky Mom, currently is serving a 30-day suspension for his actions.

Thoroughbred Web sites Bloodhorse.com and Thoroughbredtimes.com also reported later that Douglas due to the extensive injuries to his neck and spinal cord and may lose the use of his legs.

This is of special concern to this writer, who was graciously received by Douglas and many of his colleagues when working on the book project, “The Best We Never Saw” while working a Breeders’ Cup at Arlington in 2002.

Born in Panama City, Panama, Douglas has been a multiple time riding champion at Arlington and Calder Race Course in Florida. He spoke to me about the greatness of his countrymen Jockeys’ Hall of Famer rider Laffit “The Pirate” Pincay and Odin Londano, who he felt was the best rider the fans never saw.

In 1996, Douglas won the Belmont Stakes aboard Editor’s Note and during last year’s Belmont Stakes program, he guided Dancing Forever to victory in the Grade I Manhattan Handicap.

This Saturday, riders at racetracks across the U.S. and Canada will take part in a unified show of support for Douglas and the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

Riders at Belmont Park and other racetracks will participate in a moment of tribute and support for Douglas and his fellow injured riders at approximately 4:15 p.m. (ET). All active riders are being asked to consider contributing, as a sign of unity, one losing mount fee from their Saturday earnings to Douglas.

New York Racing Association (NYRA) President and CEO Charles Hayward will make a $5,000 contribution to Triple Crown winning jockey Ron Turcotte and other riders on behalf of the PDJF during the special winner’s circle ceremony at Belmont.

Also, the PDJF and B.E.S.T. (Backstretch Employee Service Team) will be the two designated charities to benefit from the NetJets sponsorship of the riders in the Belmont Stakes.

“We appreciate the generosity of NYRA, all the jockeys, racetracks, horse owners and the racing fans whose compassion and support make such a difference in the lives of disabled riders,” said Nancy LaSala, Executive Director of the PDJF.

The PDJF’s mission is to assist jockeys who are permanently disabled from an on-track accident and to build awareness for their needs. The PDJF strives to reach out to everyone within the thoroughbred and quarter horse industry, their business partners and the great fans of horse racing for their support.

The PDJF has disbursed more than $2 million to assist with the living expenses of permanently disabled riders. For more information on the PDJF visit their web site www.pdjf.org Donations may be made to P.O. Box 803; Elmhurst, IL 60126.

I have said on several occasions that thoroughbred jockeys are the best pound – for – pound athletes in any sport; and this is an important reason why. We at BASN hope for the best and our prayers for the best possible recovery are with Rene and his family.

It Is Now Post Time!

We’re going to take $250 and see if we can catch the exotic bets – the exacta, trifecta & superfecta!

Here is the field as they come to post as of Thursday afternoon:

Name Odds Trainer Jockey
1. Chocolate Candy 10-1 J.Hollendorfer Garrett Gomez
2. Dunkirk 4-1 Todd Pletcher John Velazquez
3. Mr. Hot Stuff 15-1 Eoin Harty Edgar Prad
4. Summer Bird 12-1 Tim Ice Kent Desormeaux
5. Luv Gov 20-1 D. Wayne Lukas Miguel Mena
6. Charitable Man 3-1 K. McLaughlin Alan Garcia
7. Mine That Bird 2-1 B. Woolley, Jr. Calvin Borel
8. Flying Private 12-1 D. Wayne Lukas Julien Leparoux
9. Miner’s Escape 15-1 Nick Zito Jose Lezcano
10. Brave Victory 15-1 Nick Zito Rajiv Maragh

Wheeling the trifecta (or triple) may be the most economic of moves, pick the hoss to go with MineThat Bird may not; so the first move is to key Mine That Bird with everything and avoid trouble over who may run second. ($1 triple partial key #7 with all the horses – $72 bet)

Based on what I have seen, I’m gonna do a little Cajun cooking. There are three Cajun jockeys in the field – Borel, Kent Desormeaux (riding another “Birdstone” baby in Summer Bird) and Julien “Loup Garoup” Leparoux, aboard Flying Private.

These three will make my price in the exotic bets – if they all come in. ($1 triple wheels, #4#7,#4#7 with all the horses for $16; #7#8,#7,#8 with all the horses for $16, and a saver #4#8 with #4#8 with all the horses {just in case} for $16; total – $48 bet).

Next I will box the Cajuns in a $5 exacta box for $30 (#4#7#8).

I will now key #7 Mine That Bird with the following horses: #1, Chocolate Candy, #4 Summer Bird, #6 Charitable Man, #8 Flying Private and #9, Miner’s Escape in a superfecta for $60. I am looking for a price, so if I catch #4, #8 and #9 in my “super”, we’re talking perhaps $2 – 3,000 take home. As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I will play a superfecta partial with #7#8, with #4#7#8, with #4, #6, #7 #8 with #1,#2,#4, #6,#7,#8.#9 #10 for $32 as a saver for a grand total of $242.00 – I will keep the change.

As always, if you bet along with me, you know what I put down in print is what I will bet; so if you’re following me, good luck to us both. If not, good luck to you anyway!

Tune in to a special Race Day edition of “The Weekend Sports Rap” coming this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. ET on BlogTalkRadio.com and BASN, where I will be at Belmont Park to speak on Calvin Borel’s try for the Triple Bo – Rail!

Until then, as you see your Hoss charging from the back o’ the pack to sweep by the field in mid-stretch, stand up and scream at the top of your lungs:

WORK THAT NOBLE BEAST!!!