06/28/2013 6:02PM

Hollywood Park notes: Valenzuela eyes return at Del Mar

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Benoit & Associates
Pat Valenzuela has been inactive since November of last year.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jockey Patrick Valenzuela said on Thursday that he hopes to return to riding this summer at Del Mar after an eight-month absence caused by knee problems.

Valenzuela said he plans to meet with a doctor on Friday, seeking clearance to resume exercising horses. He said he underwent surgery in March to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

“On July 5, I’ll find out if I can be released or not,” Valenzuela said at Betfair Hollywood Park. “I’m hoping.”

Valenzuela said he doubted he would be ready to ride for Del Mar’s opening day, July 17, but said he wants to ride most of the meeting, which continues through Sept. 4.

“Maybe not opening day, but I hope it won’t take me long to get the fitness I need,” he said.
Valenzuela, 50, has not ridden since Nov. 16, 2012. His last winner was Merit Man in the Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita last October.

Known for winning the 1989 Kentucky Derby on Sunday Silence but also battling substance abuse problems in his 35-year career, Valenzuela had 9 wins from 129 mounts in 2012. By comparison, he won 146 races from 933 mounts in 2010, and 113 races from 795 mounts in 2011. He has 4,342 wins lifetime and nearly $165 million in purse earnings.

Valenzuela was the regular rider of Acclamation, the champion older male of 2011.

Stewards meet with Tyler Baze

Jockey Tyler Baze is expected to learn in coming days the sanctions he faces for failing an alcohol test on June 13.

Baze, who has not ridden since June 9, met with Hollywood Park stewards Scott Chaney, Kim Sawyer, and Tom Ward in a hearing on Thursday. The stewards had not issued a ruling on Baze’s case as of Friday morning, but may do so this weekend.

Baze faces a likely suspension for failing the alcohol test, a violation of the terms of a conditional license issued last September after the jockey missed more than a year of riding for failing to take a Breathalyzer test at Del Mar in September, 2011.

On June 13, Baze said in an interview that he had consumed beer on the preceding day while on a fishing trip with friends. He took responsibility for his actions, describing the situation as “pretty devastating.”

The winner of the Eclipse Award as the nation’s outstanding apprentice jockey of 2000, Baze was taken off his mounts at a time when he was in contention for leading rider at the current spring-summer meeting.

Under the terms of his conditional license, Baze is subject to frequent drug testing, must check in with racing board investigators on a daily basis, and is subject to random breath and urine tests.

Kerlan doesn’t fill

Sunday’s $70,000 Robert Kerlan Handicap for turf sprinters was canceled because of insufficient entries.

The race was scheduled for six furlongs on turf. One horse who had been pointed for the Kerlan for several weeks was Chips All In, the winner of the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita in April.

Chips All In is trained by Jeff Mullins, who expressed frustration on Thursday at the cancellation of the Kerlan. He considered the race a prep for the $90,000 Wickerr Stakes at Del Mar on July 24. Mullins said he was not sure what approach he would take to Chips All In’s summer campaign.