12/17/2011 2:29PM

Hollywood Park: Contrite Valenzuela appears before stewards to explain absence


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela reiterated that he has retired from riding and apologized for missing his mounts at Hollywood Park last month at a hearing before Hollywood Park stewards on Saturday.

Valenzuela was summoned to appear before the stewards through a formal complaint filed by the California Horse Racing Board to discuss his absence on Nov. 17. Valenzuela said his absence was caused by an emergency involving his fiancee’s family in Kansas.

During the 15-minute hearing, Valenzuela apologized repeatedly for failing to contact stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward to explain the circumstances of his absence.

While in Kansas, Valenzuela, 49, underwent gall bladder surgery. He said on Dec. 9 that he has retired from riding, citing the effects of that surgery and a long-term battle with weight. Saturday, he told the stewards that he has no plans for a comeback.

Valenzuela could face a fine or suspension for failing to ride on Nov. 17, although a suspension would be moot because of his announced retirement.

Valenzuela won 4,333 races in a 33-year career marred by suspensions and interruptions for substance abuse problems. On two occasions since Nov. 17, once in Kansas and once in California, Valenzuela has undergone drug tests which were negative, according to racing board investigators.

Valenzuela told the stewards on Saturday that he hopes to work as a racing television commentator.