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updated: 2/19/2013 9:02 PM

Private Zone helps former jockey heal

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  • In this photo provided by Benoit Photo, jockey Rene Douglas gestures after riding Grey Misty to victory in the fifth race Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. With the win, Douglas becomes the 122nd rider in North America to win 3,000 races.

      In this photo provided by Benoit Photo, jockey Rene Douglas gestures after riding Grey Misty to victory in the fifth race Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. With the win, Douglas becomes the 122nd rider in North America to win 3,000 races.

 
Special to the Daily Herald

Dr. Hilton Gordon received the phone call he'd been waiting for Tuesday morning.

Rene Douglas was on the other end.

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"He was ecstatic when I talked to him, that's for sure," said Gordon, an emergency room physician at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

A former jockey at Arlington Park, Douglas was involved in an accident in the Matron Handicap on May 23, 2009, and he remains paralyzed.

But Douglas has gotten back into the sport as a horse owner, and he is part of the Good Friends Stable, a syndicate that includes Gordon and former Blackhawks star/head coach Denis Savard.

In his native Panama, Douglas locked in on a Canadian-bred horse named Private Zone, who was running some erratic races.

The Good Friends Stable trusted Douglas' judgment and purchased the colt.

"As good friends, we followed Rene's lead on this," Gordon said. "This was all for him. It didn't matter if it didn't pan out. We were all hopeful he was a legitimate horse, although he was a crazy horse and we were crazy to do it.

"(Private Zone) dropped a jockey twice in Panama and he opens a 5-length lead and stops. We did it for a cause, not that we wanted to throw our money away. We decided to go ahead with it."

As it turns out, it was a great move for the Good Friends Stable.

After four straight second-place finishes running in the United States last year, Douglas got word that Private Zone has been invited to run in the $2 million Golden Shaheen in Dubai on March 30.

"If we win, I think we could do a movie," Gordon said. "But the real story is how this horse has helped Rene get better."

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