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Paralyzed jockey sues Arlington Park over injury
By Ted Cox | Daily Herald Staff

Rene Douglas


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Published: 5/11/2010 4:26 PM | Updated: 5/11/2010 5:51 PM

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A top jockey paralyzed in a spill at Arlington Park a year ago and unable to walk since filed suit Tuesday against the track and the makers of its Polytrack surface in Cook County Circuit Court saying it caused the accident.

Rene Douglas and his wife, Natalia, filed suit against Arlington Park, its corporate Churchill Downs ownership, Martin Collins Surfaces and Footingsm and the Keenland Associates seeking in excess of $50,000 in damages.

Douglas, 43, was injured when his mount, Born to Be, flipped and fell on him in the Arlington Matron race on May 23, 2009. Fellow jockey Jamie Theriot was given a 30-day suspension by track stewards following the event, when they found that his horse, Sky Mom, clipped the heels of Born to Be, but Theriot was not named in the suit.

Rather, the four-count suit said the Polytrack surface was "uneven" and "filled with ruts" and caused the crash. It accused negligence in both installation and maintenance.

Douglas had been the top jockey at Arlington six of the previous eight seasons and was the leading winner last year when he was injured. He won the 1996 Belmont Stakes on Editor's Note.

Track worker Edward Seely filed a similar suit Tuesday against the same four defendants over an accident in May 2008, as well. It said Seely "exercised horses and assisted in training and working out race horses at Arlington Park," but that he was injured in a fall, also alleging the surface was "uneven" and "filled with ruts."

An Arlington spokesman declined to comment.