12/30/2006 1:00AM

Douglas, banned by Calder, is set to ride


CHICAGO - The last day of racing at the Hawthorne winter meet has brought forth an unexpected kernel of intrigue, as jockey Rene Douglas apparently is being allowed to ride one horse on the nine-race program.

Douglas was the first of 10 jockeys to have been banned from riding at four different racetracks: Calder Race Course - where Douglas was first barred - Tampa Bay Downs, Philadelphia Park, and most recently Gulfstream Park. Stewards' rulings have not been issued against the riders, who were barred from the premises by track operators.

Racing officials and the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau have declined to comment on the reason for the bans. The TRPB is conducting an investigation into the matter, which is thought to involve at least one race at Great Lakes Downs last summer on which bettors at Delaware Park cashed suspicious wagers.

Tim Carey, president of Hawthorne, said Saturday that unless he was presented detailed information about what Douglas had done to warrant a ban, Douglas was free to ride.

"Right now, I have no idea what they're holding him up on," said Carey, who added that Douglas would be permitted to ride here "until such time as someone tells me what he's done."

Douglas did not return calls to his cell phone, but his agent, Danny Mellul, said he expected Douglas to ride Gostoso in the seventh race.

"If he's on the program I assume that he's going to ride," Mellul said.

Jim DiVito, Gostoso's trainer, said he named Douglas "because I heard he was going to ride" at Hawthorne.

DiVito said he had intended to use jockey E.T. Baird on Gostoso, but that Baird chose to ride the Wayne Catalano-trained No Go Bye in the same race.

Douglas was based in Florida for years, but has strong Chicago connections from several seasons spent riding at Arlington Park. To ride Gostoso, he would have to be granted a 2007 Illinois license.

Inscrutable allowance feature

The featured eighth race on Monday looks much like so much of the recent fare: a large field that's largely impenetrable to typical handicapping dictates.

There are 12 horses in the main body of the feature, an entry-level sprint allowance, with two on the also-eligible list.

Trainer Mike Reavis appears to hold a strong hand with rail-drawn speed threat Mrs Queenie, along with Stage Glitter, one of the late-runners in the field.