07/15/2008 11:00PM

Artiste Royal sidelined

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Artiste Royal, the winner of the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 7, has been sidelined with a splint bone injury, trainer Neil Drysdale said on Wednesday.

The injury will prevent Artiste Royal from starting in the near future. Earlier this summer, he was a candidate for Sunday's $400,000 Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar or the $1 million Arlington Million on Aug. 9.

His absence is a blow to the depth of a turf marathon division in California that has already lost On the Acorn, the winner of the Grade 2 Jim Murray Memorial Handicap in May, to injury for the rest of the year.

Artiste Royal has won two Grade 1 races over 1 1/4 miles on turf in the last year. Last fall, he won the Clement Hirsch Handicap at the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting.

Owned by David and Jill Heerensperger, Artiste Royal has won 6 of 25 starts and $773,990.

The Read is the first Grade 1 of the Del Mar meeting. The field is expected to include Ferneley, Lava Man, Monzante, Spring House, Storm Military, and Whatsthescript. Lava Man, the winner of seven Grade 1 races, is the 120-pound topweight.

Surf Cat, the winner of the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood Park in April, is the 120-pound topweight in Saturday's $300,000 San Diego Handicap. The race drew a field of 10, including Well Armed, the winner of the San Antonio Handicap in February, and Rebellion, who has won two graded sprint stakes this year.

Valenzuela seeking reinstatement

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has ridden at Louisiana Downs since late May after his conditional license in California was revoked following a drunk driving arrest last winter, is seeking a return to riding in California.

Valenzuela had a hearing before administrative law judge Daniel Juarez in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday seeking a reinstatement, but a decision is not expected in the near future, according to Valenzuela's attorney, Neil Papiano.

"Who knows how long it will take," said Papiano. "They don't resolve these things immediately."

Juarez is expected to make a decision and then present his findings to the California Horse Racing Board, which will render a decision. It is unclear when that will take place.

Valenzuela lost his conditional license last December after being arrested for driving under the influence in Upland, Calif. He pled guilty to a charge for that offense in May and was sentenced to three years' probation and fined $1,595.

Valenzuela, 45, has ridden at Louisiana Downs since the end of May. He was able to ride there because he held an active license that was granted last fall. He has also ridden in New Mexico in the last month. Through Tuesday, Valenzuela had won 14 races from 84 mounts this year.

At Tuesday's hearing, Papiano argued for immediate reinstatement and said that Valenzuela should not have had his license revoked because drinking alcoholic beverages is not illegal.

"That's not constitutional," Papiano said.

The consumption of alcoholic beverages was a violation of Valenzuela's conditional license. The jockey has had a history of substance abuse problems.

The racing board's position at the hearing was argued by deputy attorney general Patricia Nevonen, who was not available for comment. Valenzuela was not available for comment.

Sadler begins title drive

John Sadler needs victories from allowance horses such as Elusive Legend if he is to win the Del mar trainers title. Elusive Legend is part of a field of seven fillies and mares in Friday's second race, a $59,000 allowance race over five furlongs on turf.

The key to winning a meet title is to have a balanced stable that can win everyday races, he said.

"You've got to win the condition races," he said.

Sadler won the training title at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting that ended on Sunday. He finished with 29 wins, six more than Doug O'Neill.

Sadler describes Elusive Legend as "one of our better horses, but she's still got to go out there and run."

Owned by Michael Talla, Elusive Legend, 3, has made one start. She won a maiden race over six furlongs on turf at Hollywood Park last November, overcoming a slow start and traffic to win by a half-length. She was sidelined after that race with a bone chip in an ankle.

"She had a little flake," Sadler said.

Elusive Legend figures to be favored on Friday.

"She's had plenty of work," Sadler said.

Sadler had several horses work on Wednesday morning, but not all of them made the official work tab. Emmy Darling, the winner of the Landaluce Stakes at Hollywood Park in June, worked a half-mile in 47 seconds, Sadler said. It did not appear on the work tab.

"That was the work that stood out," Sadler said.

Swaps scratches recuperating

Nownownow and Trevor's Clever, both of whom were scratched from the Swaps Stakes last Saturday at Hollywood Park, are recovering from minor setbacks and could resurface at Del Mar, their trainers said.

Nownownow, who won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, had an abscess that was about to pop, which caused trainer Jason Orman to withdraw the well-traveled colt from the Swaps.

"It should pop pretty soon," Orman said at Del Mar. Orman said plans for Nownownow would be determined later. "We'll wait until it pops, then see what happens," he said.

Trevor's Clever, who won the Alydar Stakes in May at Hollywood Park, was scratched just hours before the Swaps after an ankle swelled up.

"It was really strange," said Ted West, the who trains Trevor's Clever with his son, Ted H. West. "He was fine when the state vet came by to check him at 11 a.m. By 3 o'clock, he had a lump on the back of his ankle the size of a cue ball.

"Just to be on the safe side, we took him to the hospital for X-rays, and he was fine. It's just an infection. He shipped right down here and galloped on Monday. Usually you don't notice an infection until a day late, but this one we caught as early as you could."

The Wests suffered another recent setback when Stella Mark, who won the Tiznow Stakes in April at Hollywood Park and would have been a candidate for Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 San Diego Handicap, was forced to the sidelines with a soft-tissue injury.

"He got hurt about 10 days ago," West said. "He probably won't be back until the main Santa Anita meeting," which begins on Dec. 26.

Sherlock hoping luck changes

The two horses trainer Gary Sherlock entered for Thursday both landed on the also-eligible list, and on Tuesday morning, one of his hot walkers, Felipe Lario, was cow-kicked by a horse he was walking, resulting in a fire engine and paramedics from a Del Mar fire house careening through the stable area in response.

Lopez was first feared to have broken some rips, and was taken to a local hospital, but he checked out fine, having merely had the wind knocked out of him, according his son, Felipe Jr., who also works for Sherlock.

"This meet is getting off to a great start," Sherlock said. "I get two horses on the also-eligible list, so they'll probably be scratched, and I have a guy get kicked, and they haven't even run a race yet."

- additional reporting by Jay Privman