by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am

By Ray Paulick
Jockey Jamie Theriot has been suspended 30 days by Illinois Racing Board stewards for his actions in Saturday's Arlington Matron Handicap that resulted in a spill in which jockey Rene Douglas has been seriously injured and possibly paralyzed from the waist down.

The ruling against the 30-year-old Theriot reads: “Jockey Jamie Theriot is hereby suspended from riding 30 calendar days, Saturday, May 30, 2009, through Sunday, June 28, 2009, inclusive, for permitting his mount ‘Sky Mom' to jostle another horse during the running of the 9th race Saturday, May 23, 2009, causing the jostled horse to clip heels and fall, injuring both jockey and horse. Jockey Theriot's mount ‘Sky Mom' was disqualified from 5th to last position.”

The ruling was signed by state stewards Joseph Lindeman and Eddie Arroyo and association steward Peter Kosiba Jr.

Theriot had Sky Mom racing along the rail throughout the 1 1/8-mile Matron. Douglas' mount Born to Be was right alongside Sky Mom as the field hit the top of the stretch, when Theriot appeared to angle Sky Mom out for racing room. The two horses bumped or jostled, and Born to Be clipped the heels of another horse, stumbling and throwing Douglas, then rolling over the fallen rider.

Douglas, 42, was placed on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. Later that night, he was moved to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he underwent seven hours of spinal surgery. His agent, Dennis Cooper,
told reporters the native of Panama who came to the U.S. in 1983 and is a six-time Arlington Park riding champion might never walk again. Cooper said doctors held out remote hopes the paralysis might disappear as the swelling to the spinal region is reduced.

Born to Be, a 4-year-old stakes-placed A.P. Indy filly owned by Chiefswood Stable, was euthanized.

NTRA has a biography of Douglas
here and video of the Arlington Matron here. Click here for the Equibase chart.

Theriot is based in Kentucky, where he is currently fifth in the Churchill Downs standings, with 18 wins from 105 mounts.

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

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  • Richard Coreno

    A real tragedy, but it again shows the extreme danger in this sport, no matter the race, track or day of the week. The ruling should not be appealed by Theriot and – unlike Jack Tatum in the sickening Darryl Stingley situation – he should get to that hospital when doctors OK visitors outside the immediate family.

  • MED

    I feel badly for Theriot. He seems like a nice guy who made a bad decision in a split second and now has to live with it the rest of his life. RIP Born To Be and healing prayers to Rene and his family. What a horrible situation all around.

  • How bout that?

    I wonder if this will go like all of Arizona’s rulings, where he will get a couple of stays, and more hearings and drag it out 1 1/2 to 2 years? I don’t think they have finished a complete case in Az. in months. Director hands out stays like pizza coupons. Then when it comes time for the hearings, the state is “not ready.” This is the eaxct reason there should be strigent testing of riders as well as horses for prescription drug abuse as well as alcohol and illegal drugs. I am MOST CERTAINLY NOT SAYING THERIOT WAS ON ANYTHING!!! I am simply saying all riders should be out there completely heads up at all times. Accidents are going to happen regardless of how safe you are in the race from time to time, but don’t tempt fate.

  • Mike S

    I absolutely hate dangerous drivers (street, freeway, take your pick, it’s all the same) and I hate dangerous race riding as well. Gary Stevens, in my opinion, did not exercise caution when riding. Angel Cordero would take the crown as the King of Dirty Race Riding. I hadn’t noticed that Jamie Theriot is one of these riders, but I’m sorry that it took Rene Douglas getting paralyzed to perhaps wake up other riders who indulge the same dangerous pattern. Now I hope that someone does something about John Velasquez! Oh, and I really didn’t like what Garrett Gomez did to Zenyatta going down the back stretch the other day, I am not a fan of dirty tactics no matter how “slight” they seem. It doesn’t take much to make a horse fall down and be injured or die, and jockeys get hurt too. Call me crazy, but I think it’s good to practice safety and caution when in dangerous situations (driving your car, guiding your horse).

  • Tiznowbaby

    I’m with Mike S; I’m not too fond of some of some of the “race riding” that goes on. Obviously Theriot didn’t mean for that to happen, and sometimes you go for a hole that closes suddenly. I am praying for Rene Douglas and am saddened by the trauma to Born To Be and her connections.

  • D. Masters

    In the beginning of this mess, I held out hope for the jock and the horse. Now it is what it is. I’m all for winning, but not at this price. Did Theriot do it deliberately? Well, to a point. Theriot got aggressive and/or didn’t control the mount. Did he plan for a seriously injured Douglas or a dead rival? No. But what was the final result? The same thing. I am sure he is physically ill about what transpired, but the bottom line is we have a critically injured jock and a dead horse. I send my prayers to all the connections and best wishes. Such a waste.

    And speaking of waste, if these trolls that regulate their little fiefdoms don’t start getting better at infractions, drug or riding and scratching horses (please take note of all the infamous scratches since SA thru the KD), this game is doomed. People don’t want to see crashes like this or their champions paralyzed and the horses dead, competitors carried off in ambulances or sent to slaughter (equines). Just sick.

    Maybe NASCAR or NHL would better suit those fans (although I highly recommend international rugby).

    Get well Rene.

  • Ron Turcotte

    Don’t get me wrong I don’t hold hold no grudge now and never did against Jeff Fell after he pushed my horse Flag of Leyte Gulf across the horse Water Melone’s heels that sent my horse Flag of Leyte Gulf plumetting head first onto the track with me that resulted in breaking my back, I mean crushing 2 vertabrae and breaking 2 more that left me paralysed from mid chest down, but I was mad as hell at the Stewards for not disqualifing Small Raja from first to last because they were the cause of the accident and from not acting with a disqualification of careless riding the Stewards were sending a message to other Jockeys that it was ok to ride as rough as they wanted, as long they win that was allright.
    Not that if any action taken after the accident would have given me more use of my lower extremeties, but at least it would have left a message that the Stewards were doing their job and looking out for the Jockeys and making sure that whoever doesn’t ride clean will be punished.

    Good luck Rene and I will be praying for you

  • Ray Paulick

    Ron…Thanks for giving us not only the perspective of a professional jockey (for those who don’t remember, Mr. Turcotte rode Secretariat, Riva Ridge and many other greats during his Hall of Fame career), but also from the standpoint of one whose career and life changed dramatically as a result of a racing accident. I’m sure it is painful for you to see any of your fellow riders involved in a spill, but your comments and insights are greatly appreciated and drive home just how dangerous this game can be and how important it is for the Stewards to maintain control of the riders through disciplinary measures.

    I’d like to remind our readers that they can show their support for Ron Turcotte and the many other permanently disabled riders by making a donation to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, P.O. Box 803, Elmhurst, IL 60126, Tel. 630.595.7660 Fax 630.595.7655. The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund is a Registered 501(c)3 organization.

  • D. Masters

    People forget these things Mr. Turcotte…unless they have to live with it. Thanks for the reminder.

    Again best wishes to the Douglas Family, the connections/Born to Be and I even pray and wish the gift of forgiveness and hope to Mr. Theriot. Who wants to live with that kind of aftermath?

    Clean up your act tracks, vets, trainers, race stewards, etc…we need a national authority with the power of God and Alex Waldrop isn’t it.

  • D. Masters

    Mr. Paulick…I, for one will never forget Mr. Turcotte. It’s a shame that a percentage (one-half of one per cent?) of every handle per race and every purse cannot go to DJF, Chapliancy and TB retirement…just a shame. …one-half of one percent?…that’s all. But no racing authority mandates it; it’s all voluntary…factor in our health care system, tragic…just tragic. Greatest country in the world and we have these kind of situations.

  • c aker

    why not have Theriot continue to ride, but give all the earnings to the disabled jockey fund?

  • Freespirit

    C Aker – great idea – only why not give it directly to Rene Douglas – he is going to need it. But, they probably legally couldn’t enforce it.

    Good to hear from Ron Turcotte. I have thought about him at different times and wondered how he was doing.
    A great jockey who had a great career.

  • Shamanka

    My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Douglas and his family. I feel badly for Mr. Theriot, he must feel awful but IMO the suspension was warranted.

    Good to hear Ron Turcotte’s thoughts on this subject. Mr. Turcotte you and the incredible horses you rode are responsible for my love of horse racing. Riva Ridge’s Kentucky Derby was the first hose race I ever saw. Thank you.

  • Amy

    Thoughts and prayers for Rene Douglas and those close to him, as well as to the connections of Born to Be.

    It’s an honour to hear from Mr. Turcotte on the subject.

  • Original post by mattusmaximus

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