04/27/2012 3:58PM

Hollywood Park notes: Valenzuela winless first day back


Jockey Patrick Valenzuela was winless with two mounts on Thursday’s program, his first rides since returning from a four-month retirement.

Valenzuela finished eighth aboard Family and Friends in a maiden claimer and fifth on Jilly Baylee in a maiden special weight race for 2-year-old fillies.

“I felt like I won a race today,” Valenzuela said. “I’m back and I’m feeling good.”

Thursday’s mounts were the first for Valenzuela since mid-November. He took off his mounts last Nov. 13 to be with his fiancée. He underwent gall bladder surgery later that month and announced in December that he was retiring because of that surgery and near-constant battles with weight.

Earlier this month, he reversed the decision, announcing his return to riding. Valenzuela, 49, has won 4,333 races.

Sunday at Hollywood Park, Valenzuela is booked on one mount, the maiden claimer My Mariska in the ninth. Next week, Valenzuela could have an increased book of rides since several of the circuit’s leading riders will be traveling to ride Kentucky Derby week at Churchill Downs.

Greely ends drought with $106 winner

Trainer Beau Greely won his first race in 21 months in memorable fashion Thursday.

The maiden claimer Banana Split, eased in his career debut March 1, rallied through the stretch to win the sixth race, returning $106.60.

Greely, 40, resumed training earlier this year after a break of nearly a year. He underwent hip replacement surgery last year and needed a second operation when the first surgery failed, he said.

“Twenty days after the surgery, it snapped,” he said of the initial operation. “I had two hip replacements in 20 days. I decided to take it off until I could come back.”

Banana Split was Greely’s fourth starter of the year. He has five horses in his stable and will add three more in coming weeks.

“I’m just rebuilding,” he said. “You’ve got to recruit. It’s nice to be back.”

When Greely left training in 2011, many of his horses were sent to trainer Marty Jones, including Tres Borrachos, who won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar last summer. Greely trained Tres Borrachos when he won the Grade 2 Swaps Stakes in 2008. Tres Borrachos remains with Jones’s stable.

Morning Line set for LeRoy Handicap

Morning Line, who won the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby in 2010 and the Grade 1 Carter Handicap last year, is nearing his California debut for trainer John Shirreffs in the $150,000 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap next Saturday.

Previously trained by Nick Zito, Morning Line has not started since finishing 11th in the Whitney Handicap at Saratoga last August. In recent months, Morning Line has worked steadily at Hollywood Park.

Joe Talamo has the mount on Morning Line in the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy, which is run over 1 1/16 miles. Another candidate for the LeRoy is Setsuko, who was second in the $750,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 3.