09/02/2016 3:40PM

Hovdey: PVal - From the good to the bad and ugly

Barbara D. Livingston
Patrick Valenzuela will make yet another return to the saddle Sunday in the Rio Grande Senorita Futurity at Ruidoso Downs.

Patrick Valenzuela has been issued a license by the state of New Mexico and is scheduled for three rides at Ruidoso on Sunday, including the mount on Heat Stroke for track owner R.D. Hubbard in the $191,077 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity.

Only a heartless cynic would have anything but compassion for the long struggle Valenzuela has had with drugs and alcohol. At the same time, he is a fascinating character, with Hall of Fame stats and a “Law & Order” rap sheet that will confound racing historians for years to come.

More recently, the physical toll of riding and reducing for so many years has plagued Valenzuela, 53, to the point of retirement. But he feels good again, he says, and he is ready to rock. So, let the memories roll.

April 1980 – At 17, wins the Santa Anita Derby in a 25-1 upset aboard Codex for Mr. and Mrs. James Binger and trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

March 1984 – Wins the 47th running of the Santa Anita Handicap before a crowd of 74,687, defeating the favored John Henry and 1982 Derby winner Gato Del Sol.

November 1984 – Disqualified for interference aboard Fran’s Valentine after they finish first in the first Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

May 1985 – Rides Fran’s Valentine to victory in the 111th running of the Kentucky Oaks.

November 1987 – Valenzuela and the filly Very Subtle dominate the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park.

May 1988 – Denied a jockey’s license by the Albuquerque board of stewards after testing positive for cocaine. The ruling is overturned on a technicality by the New Mexico Racing Commission, and Valenzuela is granted a license subject to random testing.

April and May 1989 – Wins the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness aboard Sunday Silence for trainer Charlie Whittingham.

October 1989 – Suspended 60 days after testing positive for cocaine and loses the mount on Sunday Silence in the $3 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Sunday Silence wins under Chris McCarron to earn Horse of the Year.

December 1990 – Suspended six months for failing to abide by the terms of the probationary license he received after returning from his 60-day suspension in 1989.

August 1991 – Wins the inaugural edition of the $1 million Pacific Classic aboard Best Pal for track chairman John C. Mabee.

October 1991 – Valenzuela and the French-trained colt Arazi put on a spectacular show to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill.

October 1992 – Wins the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies with Eliza and the Breeders’ Cup Turf with Fraise at Gulfstream Park for Allen and Madeleine Paulson.

New Year’s Eve 1992 – Rescues a 9-year-old boy from a burning motor home parked on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in anticipation of the Rose Parade the following day.

December 1993 – Calls in sick the morning of the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup and begs off the mount on Fraise, who wins the race under McCarron.

October 1994 – Suspended indefinitely for failing to meet with Santa Anita Park stewards to explain the circumstances behind a series of unexcused absences.

August 1995 – Suspended for the balance of the Del Mar meet for failure to appear at a stewards hearing.

February 2000 – Tests positive for amphetamines and is suspended for the balance of the year.

January to December 2003 – Wins all five major California titles and is a finalist for an Eclipse.

April 2004 – Suspended indefinitely by the CHRB for failing to appear for a drug test in violation of his license agreement.

August 2004 – Suspended for the balance of the year for failing to comply with random testing demands – specifically, that he shaved his body allegedly to avoid hair follicle testing.

May 2005 – Suffers an injured knee and a concussion in a paddock accident at Hollywood.

November 2007 – After an absence from riding for nearly a year, returns to competition at Zia Park in New Mexico.

December 2007 – Arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in the town of Upland, not far from Santa Anita Park.

September 2008 – The CHRB adopts the recommendation of an administrative law judge that Valenzuela’s conditional license should be revoked and that he “is permanently ineligible to reapply for, or to hold, a license issued by the California Horse Racing Board.”

October 2008 – Rides winner No. 4,000 at Louisiana Downs.

July 2010 – The CHRB reverses its previous stand and grants Valenzuela a conditional license.

August 2011 – Under a picture-perfect hand ride, Acclamation and Valenzuela hold off Joel Rosario and Twirling Candy to win the $1 million Pacific Classic.

December 2011 – Announces his retirement at 49.

April 2012 – Announces his return to riding.

February 2014 – Suspended indefinitely for violation of the terms of his conditional license.

July 2016 – Denied a license to ride in California, where he has won most of his 4,366 races. The hearing officer appointed by the state’s attorney general is encouraged that Valenzuela has had no substance-abuse violations for the past six months, but his record did show what the officer described as “15 major rule violations and/or convictions” since 2000.

August 2016 – Granted a jockey’s license by the New Mexico Racing Commission.

nick 4 months ago
Dear Mr. Erskine,
   Since when is rescuing a boy a reason to grant a repeated confirmed rulebreaker a license to ride? If you read the above article you will see that this fellow has been in situations where he has been subject to random tests, and what was the result? Multiple failed tests, multiple missed tests, and even a silly attempt to subvert the testing process by totally shaving his body hair. There exists no 'Right' to ride a racehorse, any more than there is a 'Right' to drive a car. It is a  privilege, extended to you subsequent to passing a licensing process, and subject to certain rules and regulations. When those rules are broken, the license is supposed to be revoked. 
    Do you think someone who has been convicted of several DUI traffic offenses and has had his driver's license revoked should have it restored because he rescues someone from a burning building? I submit to you that that is absurd on it's face. One has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with the other. The same holds here.
morton erskine 4 months ago

If he is tested every day and clean he should be allowed to work. I would hope

that the people who deny him this should hold themselves to the same.

No scotch and sodas tonight and is that non alcohol wine your serving

with dinner. They should also be tested, and every day.

Chad mc rory 4 months ago
If Racing tested owners, how would this story read?
morton erskine 4 months ago

I wonder why no one comments on Jay's list..... "Rescues a 9-year-old-boy from

a burning motor home" I guess everyone is more content to focus on issues they

know nothing about. I do not recall Pat involved in any incidents to other riders.

If his right to ride is restored he will be tested day and night. Lets get him back where

he belongs.  Santa Anita winter meet here we come.

Shawn Kennedy 4 months ago
One would view P. Val's record in the same way Barry Bond's is viewed in baseball: "Great, but..."
Greg Scherr 4 months ago
Here's your heartless cynic  :)  and PLEASE don't tell me how he was the best when he was clean, I will concede that for sake of discussion, but this isn't about "when he was clean"  He's an embarrassment to himself and has made the CHRB stooges look like, well stooges.  He's violated every rule, laughed at suspensions, mocked mandatory testing, and all because jokers (read trainers) and owners have allowed it.  I have been against him getting a license since the late 90's, because he's a danger to other riders and horses, I don't give 2 hoots if he gets hurt, it's other riders who follow the rules who matter.  If he wants to ride loaded and ends up on a respirator, that's his self inflicted result, but he's not riding in a bubble.  I just hope when he gets high, fails another test, and he will, that it's while he's on crutches and unable to skirt the rules a final time.  Then good riddance, finally  
nick 4 months ago
My dear Dr. Arata,
   Are you familiar with either of these statements:
1)Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it (Edmund Burke, Irish statesman, ca. 1700's)
2) Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to  repeat it (George Santayana, author, 1905). 
  That's why people focus on the past, because it is an excellent predictor of the future. Yes, Mr. Valenzuela has all those rights you mentioned, the one he DOESN'T  have is to endanger the lives of horses of fellow jockeys by by not being 100% drug/alcohol free when he is working. He has proven many times over he cannot be depended upon to be just that.
   E. G. 1988, positive test for Cocaine
             1989 positive test for Cocaine
             1990 failed to comply with provisionary lincense requirements 
             1994 failure to attend hearing with Stewards
            1995 failure to attend hearing with Stewards
            2000 positive test for amphetamines 
            2004 fails to appear at drug test in violation of licensing agreement
            2004 attempts to circumvent random drug test
            2007 arrrsted for DUI alcohol
            2014 violates terms of conditional license
      Do we really need to wait until he is involved in a fatal incident (I won't say accident because if it happens it won't be such) before the powers that govern our sport do the right thing and ban him for life?
    And Ms. Mordenti, 
        We are not dredging up 'garbage' as you refer to it, and it is most certainly NOT about him being one of the best of all times. It is about his inability to follow the guidelines/requirements established for those who wish to participate in this endeavor. 
    It is long past time when people should have stopped giving his behavior a pass. Horse racing would survive just fine if Mr. Valenzuela is never allowed up on another race horse. And it would be much more safe,  
Rhubella Arata 4 months ago

Dear Nick,


Thank you for taking the time to elaborate a response to my comment. To answer your question; No, I am not familiar with those statements.You may bring a good point as of why people “focus on the past”, but I will have to respectfully disagree with you and the way you are applying those statements. Your mainly focus is negative past. Using the same principal, I am choosing to focus in the “Positive past”. With that being said, I would like to see Patrick and his great talent accomplishing many more victories in his career as a jockey. I do acknowledge the negative incidents mentioned above but I am not going to elaborate on those because as far as I know there were no work related accidents.  If we want to talk about athletes being at 100%. I would like to remind you that there are many other conditions that could prevent a jockey to not be at a 100%. For example: depression, stress, pain, dehydration, use of prescribed meds, etc. Any of these conditions could easily reduce an athlete’s ability to perform and cause accidents. Not to mention that horse racing is a dangerous sport itself.

There are no records of a test failure since late 90’s or early 2000’s. DIU in 2007 (9 years ago) true, but NOT during working hours or at the racetrack. I will stop here because it is not my intention to defend or bad mouth anyone. This is my personal option based on the facts that I know....

Thanks again for your comment and for being polite enough to carry a decent conversation. Have a great day.

Lalu Nanda 4 months ago

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Kathleen Mordenti 4 months ago
Why do people have to dredge up garbage.  Isn't it about his riding one of the best of all times... he is doing everything right and people still have to dredge up the past.  Let him use his talents for what he was made for to ride.
Greg Scherr 4 months ago
he lost that privilege and it is a privilege not a right 
Richard Kennedy 4 months ago
PVAL was among the BEST I've seen, along with my FAVORITE, the GREAT ANGEL CORDERO!!
Richard Kennedy 4 months ago
SPELLCHECK:  Not "beist" (sic) BIASED.