03/24/2009 11:00PM

Agent: Valenzuela suspended


NEW ORLEANS - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela's first season at the Fair Grounds appears to be done. Valenzuela took off his scheduled mounts last week, and his agent, Paul Pembo, said the stewards told him Valenzuela was suspended for the last three days of meet, which ends Sunday.

"I haven't seen the official statement," said Pembo. "But the stewards called me in and told me not to take any more mounts for him for the rest of the meet."

Although the notice was not posted in the racing office, Pembo said he had been informed that the suspension was "for not fulfilling his riding engagements," and that Valenzuela would be fined.

Valenzuela had had a solid season in a crowded jockeys' colony, with 25 wins from 254 mounts, and just over $1 million in earnings. He is in 13th place entering the final weekend of racing at the Fair Grounds.

Valenzuela did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

Star Guitar's next up in the air

Trainer Al Stall knew that the waters were going to be deep for Star Guitar in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, with Macho Again, Honest Man, and one of his own standouts, My Pal Charlie, in the March 14 race. But that was what he was looking for - a chance to see what Star Guitar could do in open company after he had demolished his competition among Louisiana- bred horses.

But Stall was left with more questions, as Star Guitar never really fired and hardly got a chance to run. He went from being extremely wide into the first turn to being stuck in the worst of the slop along the rail. He finished seventh, 8 3/4 lengths in back of winner Macho Again.

"We are trying to figure out a reason for what happened, trying to blame something - maybe post position, maybe the condition of the race track, maybe the awkward outside to inside trip," said Stall. "It wasn't his A race, and it wasn't even his B race. We didn't get to really see his race."

As a result, Stall was undecided about Star Guitar's next move.

"We are trying to figure out what is next," said Stall, mentioning as possibilities the April 4 Oaklawn Handicap or a race at Keeneland.

"He came out of the race fine and is training well," said Stall.

Star Guitar's record now stands at 6 wins from 8 starts.

Albarado has serious lead

Robby Albarado took a lot of the suspense out of the chase for the jockey title, riding six winners last week to enter the final weekend nine wins ahead of last year's leader, Jamie Theriot.

Albarado opened up on the field even though he missed Saturday racing at the Fair Grounds. He traveled to New York that day to pilot Secret Gypsy to a victory in the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct.

Albarado looks poised to win his record seventh Fair Grounds riding title, even though he has missed nearly a sixth of the meet. He arrived three weeks into the season and has consistently gone to ride horses in stakes races around the country.

Five statebred stakes end meet

The Fair Grounds closes out its 137th racing season with four stakes on Saturday and one on Sunday, all for Louisiana-bred horses.

The Happy Ticket is the first stakes on the card for Saturday, and features the third meeting of Sax Appeal and Very Sexcessful. Very Sexcessful won the Louisiana Futurity in her first start, finishing five lengths in front of Sax Appeal. In their second meeting, it was Sax Appeal who won, as Very Sexcessful failed to fire.