07/14/2004 11:00PM

Board will challenge Valenzuela's stay request


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Attorney Neil Papiano was expected to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday to request a stay that would allow jockey Patrick Valenzuela to resume riding until a hearing is conducted on his recent suspension for failing to submit to a hair-follicle test.

A hearing before Hollywood Park stewards was scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed after the stewards granted a request for continuance to deputy attorney general Jim Ahern, who asked for more time to schedule an expert witness to discuss hair-follicle testing and analysis.

The hearing has not been rescheduled, but could occur at Del Mar in August.

Papiano said late Wednesday that he intended to ask for the stay after the steward's granted the continuance.

Valenzuela was suspended July 2 for failing to comply with the terms of his conditional license, which requires that he submit to a hair-follicle test. The suspension came one day after Valenzuela returned from a 30-day suspension for failing to submit to a mandatory drug test in January.

Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse problems, said in early July that he was unable to take the hair-follicle test because he had fully shaved his body and could not provide the necessary sample. Valenzuela, 41, led the jockey standings at all five major meetings in Southern California last year.

Ahern, who is arguing the case on behalf of the California Horse Racing Board, said the board plans to contest Valenzuela's stay.

"I anticipated this happening," Ahern said.

Ahern said the attorney general's office would present a written document "so the court can get a better idea of what this controversy is about."

Papiano said he met with Valenzuela last week and that Valenzuela had "a crew cut." Papiano said he was going to offer the CHRB the opportunity at Thursday's hearing to shave the rest of the hair on Valenzuela's head for testing.

"This deprives this man the right to make a living," Papiano said of the recent suspension.

If granted a stay, Valenzuela could resume riding by the opening day at Del Mar on Wednesday.

His agent, Corey Black, has returned to his previous job of working as a commentator on the TVG racing network.

Hendricks to begin rehab after accident

Trainer Dan Hendricks, who suffered paralysis in his legs in a motorcycle accident July 7, will be transferred from a San Diego hospital to a rehabilitation program at the beginning of the week, according to his wife, Samantha.

Hendricks, 45, underwent an operation Monday to stabilize his spine. Thursday, he was sitting in a wheelchair, Samantha Hendricks said.

"Mentally, he's doing very well," she said.

Samantha Hendricks said the rehabilitation program could take approximately a month before Dan Hendricks can resume overseeing his 25-horse stable. Until then, assistant Francisco Alvarado is directing the barn.

Samantha said she will also be involved with the stable in coming weeks. When the couple was married, Samantha was involved with the stable on a day-to-day basis, but left the racetrack when the couple had children.

Sunday, the Hendricks stable will have Runaway Dancer in the $150,000 Sunset Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf. The Grade 2 Sunset Handicap is the closing day feature of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting.

Runaway Dancer pulled an upset at 38-1 in the Grade 3 Carleton Burke Handicap over 1 1/2 miles on turf at Santa Anita last October, but is winless in six subsequent starts, all stakes.

The other probable starters for the Sunset Handicap are Continuously, Freddy, Gallant, Gulchie, Leprechaun Kid, and Star Over the Bay.

The participation of Freddy, a multiple stakes winner in Argentina in 2002, was under question Thursday. Trainer Don Burke II said he would decide Friday whether to start after consulting with owner Gary Tanaka.

Rock Hard Ten leaning toward Travers

Rock Hard Ten is likely to reappear in the $1 million Travers Stakes over 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga on Aug. 28, although owners Ernie Moody and Madeleine Paulson have not finalized their plans, trainer Jason Orman said.

Orman said the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22 remains a possibility.

Rock Hard Ten, who was second in the Preakness Stakes behind Smarty Jones May 15, won his first stakes in the Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes at Hollywood Park last Saturday.

Thursday, Rock Hard Ten returned to the track for a jog, his first exercise since the Swaps. Rock Hard Ten was booked to ship to Del Mar on Friday, Orman said.

Orman said the prospect of a lucrative race against 3-year-olds in the Travers was more appealing than a start against top older horse Pleasantly Perfect, who is a candidate for the Pacific Classic.

"I think we'd prefer to take on 3-year-olds," he said. "The longer you can put off [a start against older horses], the better you are."

Paasch back in California

Christopher Paasch, a former California-based trainer who has trained primarily in Kentucky for the last 16 months, will have a 12-horse stable at Del Mar this summer. Paasch said he is reforming a California division at the request of horse owner Charlie Cono.

Del Mar opens its 43-day meeting Wednesday.

* Jockey Tyler Baze, who through Wednesday led the standings with 55 wins, will miss Saturday's program to ride the Claiming Crown program at Canterbury Park. Baze stretched to six his lead over Victor Espinoza in Thursday's first race, with a victory aboard Evrybdyluvsdaheat ($5.40).