Updated on 09/15/2011 1:36PM

Guidry's old agent helping Douglas challenge for lead


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Three weeks ago Mark Guidry threatened to turn the jockey's race here into a runaway. Now Guidry's lead is threatened by Arlington newcomer Rene Douglas, whose agent, Dennis Cooper, represented Guidry for almost 12 years.

But Guidry, a perennial leading rider in Chicago, replaced Cooper shortly before the Arlington meet began with Ronnie Ebanks. Cooper says he found out about the move when he read it in a local newspaper.

"I still say Guidry's the best rider in the country," Cooper said, "because I said that when I was his agent. But I'll tell you this: He won't be the leading rider here."

That's a bold prediction, but Cooper and Douglas have steadily eaten away at Guidry's lead, which stood at 20 to 12 on July 4. After a winning the first three races here Wednesday, Douglas had moved to within four wins of Guidry, who easily took last year's Arlington title.

Since July 4, Douglas has compiled a record of 37-10-7-0, while Guidry has gone 29-6-6-6. That's a telling statistic given the fact that Guidry often dominates racing here week in and week out.

How the 34-year-old Douglas, a mainstay in south Florida, came to Arlington at the last minute remains something of a mystery. Cooper says Douglas called him. Douglas says it was the other way around. In any case, after the initial contact had been made, Douglas called Cooper two days before the meet and said he was coming.

"It was hard to leave my family," said Douglas, who has a home in Florida, where his wife and two children are living. "But I like this meet so much."

Douglas said he had heard of Cooper, but didn't know him before coming to Arlington. "I'm glad I know him now," he said. "He knows every horse here and every horse in Kentucky."

Pretty Gale looking pretty good

Douglas has been winning at about a 30 percent clip in turf races here, so it's no surprise he has a live mount in Sunday's feature, a second-level turf allowance for 3-year-old fillies. Douglas rides Pretty Gale for trainer Bobby Springer and owner Russel Reineman, who already have won three grass races at this meet.

With Douglas putting her on an early lead in a turf race here June 24, Pretty Gale held on until the final strides only to be caught on the wire. Pretty Gale again appears to be the controlling early speed, but the field she meets Saturday is tougher.

It includes Kiss the Devil, 2 for 2 on turf, Gone on Sheila, who comes out of a decent stakes try at Monmouth Park, and, perhaps Twilight Tryst, a standout grass allowance winner here earlier in the meet. Trainer Hugh Robertson cross-entered Twilight Tryst and My Girl Lisa in an allowance race Saturday. One will scratch from that race to run Sunday.

Kiss the Devil, from the Dave Vance stable, can be excused a recent loss in a Churchill start rained off turf. Earlier in the meet she won her maiden and turf debut by five lengths and a first-level grass allowance by two. Greta Kuntzweiler, aboard for both wins, rides again Sunday.