10/02/2009 2:20PM

It's Pat!


Just in case anyone asks, here is exactly how the order reads as issued Aug. 11, 2008, by Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez, of the state of California's Office of Administrative Hearings:

"Respondent Patrick Valenzuela is permanently ineligible to reapply for, or to hold, a license issued by the California Horse Racing Board."

This could be interpreted, without much fear of argument, as unambiguous. "Patrick Valenzuela" can mean only the same Patrick Valenzuela who has won more than 4,000 races, a Kentucky Derby, seven Breeders' Cup events, and was charged with a DUI in December of 2007 while riding under a provisional CHRB license agreement that forbid any use of alcohol. "Permanently" is a word that leaves very little wiggle room, just as "ineligible" lends itself to very narrow interpretation. In addition, the fact that the order states that "Patrick Valenzuela" can neither "reapply" or "hold" a license from the racing board would seem to put a damper on anyone giving him a license to ride in California for a 47th birthday present on Oct. 17, although he would probably consider it a lovely gesture, even if he could only use it for a bookmark.


Ah, but an inspired attorney hasn't really taken a crack at the Juarez order yet, so hedge your bets accordingly. And I only bring this up because Valenzuela has requested that the California Horse Racing Board consider granting him a license to ride once again in California.

Valenzuela is currently recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in a horrifying pile-up at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 23. Prior to that, he made a cameo appearance at Del Mar for the unveiling of the Peb mural (on which Valenzuela is a featured face) and lobbied everyone he saw to be allowed to return. More recently, he was in L.A. to attend the funeral of his uncle, Hall of Fame jockey Milo Valenzuela, and for the opening day program of the Oak Tree meet.

Again, from the Juarez order: "Respondent's arguments, that it is unreasonable to require Respondent to completely abstain from alcohol, unreasonable to deem him permanently ineligible for licensure, and that, in pursuing these actions, the CHRB goes beyond its legislative authority, is flatly countered by the Legislature's broad and unambiguous language in Business and Professions Code  section 19460 ("conditions as deemed necessary or desirable"). Furthermore, given Respondent's previous drug addiction, it is reasonable to require Respondent to refrain from ingesting any drugs or alcohol at any time, not just before a horse race."

No one has an inherent right to be a jockey, although the privilege is available to anyone who wants to play by the rules. If Valenzuela wants to gain access to that privilege in California once again, he has every right to try. It will cost him, obviously. The legal representation required won't come cheap. Right now is not the time to recount the ways in which Valenzuela has dragged the sport through his personal torments, or to list--alphabetically or chronoligically--the many chances he has squandered in the past. Hopefully, he will be quietly discouraged to abandon this latest quest, and come to understand that he has worn the welcome mat to tatters. Sometimes, no just means no.

evning.a.tired More than 1 year ago
Addiction is a disease. Yes, there is an aspect of free-will to it, but once you start taking drugs/drinking regular, physical changes occur in your brain which mnakes it very hard to stop using. But, some people are able to stop and I think PV deserves that chance (he may have already had a few chances). He needs help, whiis ch he may not even admit he needs. Fine, if he refuses tot take responsibility for his actions, then I don't feel bad for him. But, wouldn't we forever regret it if Cal. had revoked Garret Gomez' license Forever. GG is one of the few people, who could return to the elite club of jockeys that ever trainer wants, but he fought for 21 months (and, probably continues to fight) to remain sober. If PV has already blown a number of chances to get his act together, then forget him. My only point is that we have to give jockeys with substance abuse problems the ability to return to racing. If we didn't, we wouldn't have watched GG in almost every BC race this weekend. One final note - NY jockey Norberto Arroyo is currently suspended from riding in NY because he was indicted for psosession of cocaine. I hope that Norberto has the strength to follow in GG'the path and that the NY Racing Authorities permit him to have his license reinstated once he is clean.
vince dominiano More than 1 year ago
p val always gave his all in his race riding which is what a bettor likes he should be allowed to obtain a license with a bond placed for any kind of substance abuse conditions with monitored by the racing commission and bonding company all expenses for this must be paid by the jockey. when moneys is on the line competitve people will preform. vinny dee
Tiffini More than 1 year ago
Please let's not use the PVAL gives racing a bad name avenue. When PVAL is riding, he makes the sport look great. In 2003, the year of sweeping the SoCal circut, how many of those 978 mounts with 196 wins were the people critisizing the antics of PVAL. On the issue of PVAL disrespecting the sport, is that the opinion of those who cashed a purse check due to his performance? Sure there are plenty of suspensions, returns, etc. that are true in regards to his personal addiction. However, it has NEVER been proven that PVAL is under the influence while riding. PVAL has paid plenty for his irresponsible actions in the duration of his career. He lost almost 7 years of a career that should be recogized as brilliant but instead is plagued by an illeness often confused with a weakness. In a world where there are questionable beings continuously placed in the consideration of the best, I question the act to ban an individual that more so belongs in the ranks of greatness more so than any other in possesion of a CHRB license. I am YET to find in a lifetime of an industry family, ANYBODY who deserves to be on the back of a horse more so than Pat. I imagine Jay summed it perfectly in an article related to my step-father's passing back in 1989... Loyalties are rare in this industry, if they exist at all. As long as PVAL has the support of anybody in possesion of a horse and the decision of whom to place on their back, PVAL will succeed in the place he was destined, despite all, to be.
casey's shadow More than 1 year ago
Patrick is tough as nails and deserves to be back with us in So. Cal. View this clip of his last mount in Louisiana. Giving fans 100 percent - LA Downs – Sun., August 23rd 9th Race (Valenzuela #6, Torres #8, Meche #4, Perrodin #11, and Flores #10) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7A45zsi2V0
Danny More than 1 year ago
As obviously talented as Valenzuela is,every time he"s allowed back, he spits right in our eyes. He makes Steve Howe look like a movie usher. Were talking years here that this guy refuses to get with the program. Leading rider or no leading rider. Enough is enough. Danny in Lexington KY
C More than 1 year ago
For everyone who says PVal should be reinstated again, my question is: WHY? There are rules of conduct in this world. Maybe getting out of the jockey life is the best thing for him.
chuckr More than 1 year ago
I'm all for second chances (maybe not 3rd and 4th ones, though), but sometimes you don't get your second chance where you screwed up the first one.
slider More than 1 year ago
He is a joke and has had enough chances.Back to Loiusiana for him!!
bill More than 1 year ago
pat had more violations of substance abuse than any of the trainers that many of the are bringing up. And yes, pat did many bettor wrong. I could always tell a couple of weeks before he would get busted that he was using again. there were many days that all he did was sit on a horse - so yes, he did many horses and bettors wrong. Pat had MANY MANY MANY chances.
Mike S More than 1 year ago
I don't think Pat Valenzuela is the best jockey Southern California has seen. I think that honor belongs to William Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. However, Pat Valenzuela is a great jockey, and I would put him in the top five!