12/06/2012 4:47PM

Hollywood Park notes: Valenzuela to be sidelined by surgery for knee injury

Shigeki Kikkawa
Valenzuela announced his retirement in November 2011, but returned to riding this past spring.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela will be sidelined until January at the earliest to have surgery on a knee that has troubled the 50-year-old rider since the summer.

Valenzuela is expected to miss the early weeks of the Santa Anita meeting and said he will not know the extent of his absence until the surgery.

“I hope to be back at Santa Anita, depending on how severe the knee is,” he said earlier this week. “We’ll see what happens when they open it up.

Valenzuela has not ridden since Nov. 16.

Valenzuela announced his retirement in November 2011, but returned to riding last spring. He has struggled to gain significant business this year, winning nine races. His biggest win came aboard Acclamation in the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap here in June.

“I was in a lot of pain all year,” he said. “I should have had my knee done when I retired last year.”

Castellano a Woolf award finalist

Jockey Javier Castellano, currently second in the nation in 2012 earnings, is among the five finalists for the 2013 George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award, Santa Anita announced on Thursday.

The annual award honors riders who have achieved success on the racetrack and personal character away from the sport. Castellano has been nominated along with Perry Compton, David Flores, Mario Pino, and Rodney Prescott.

The winner will be selected through a vote of jockeys throughout the nation, with a presentation to be held during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting that begins on Dec. 26.

Ramon Dominguez, who leads the nation’s riders with 2012 earnings of more than $25.1 million, was honored with the 2012 Woolf Award in March.