09/30/2010 3:21PM

Kentucky grants license to Valenzuela


A committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission granted a license Thursday to Patrick Valenzuela, the California-based rider with a long history of substance-abuse problems, while also advising trainer Patrick Biancone to withdraw his application because of “material omissions” related to suspensions in other racing jurisdictions, the commission’s executive director said.

According to Lisa Underwood, the commission’s top official, the License Review Committee voted unanimously to award the license to Valenzuela, conditioned on his compliance with daily drug and alcohol tests while he is riding in Kentucky. Valenzuela was seeking the license so that he could ride during the upcoming three-week Keeneland meet, which starts Oct. 8, and to ensure that he will be able to ride during the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Underwood said that Valenzuela will be eligible to ride in Kentucky following the approval of the consent agreement early next week. The agreement requires Valenzuela to pay for the drug and alcohol tests.

Any plans to run horses at the Keeneland meet or the Breeders’ Cup are now dashed for Biancone, who agreed to withdraw his license application after regulators said that the omissions would require the committee to reject the application. Underwood said that Biancone would not be able to apply for a license in Kentucky until next year.

Biancone was suspended by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for one year in 2007 after investigators discovered vials of cobra venom, a prohibited neurotoxin, during a search of his barn at Keeneland. After sitting out the suspension, Biancone received licenses in other jurisdictions, but a condition of his Kentucky suspension required him to re-apply for a license before he could run any horses in the state.

A native of France, Biancone has been suspended in multiple racing jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, after regulators discovered banned substances in more than 20 horses he trained in 1999. Following the Hong Kong suspension, he moved his operations to the United States.

Valenzuela, 47, was relicensed this year by the California Horse Racing Board and rode during the summer at the Del Mar meet, where he finished third in the jockeys’ standings with 29 wins. Valenzuela had been riding for two years in New Mexico and Louisiana. prior to being granted the license in California in July. The California license also was contingent on Valenzuela being available for daily drug and alcohol tests, in addition to counseling for alcoholism.

Valenzuela has won more than 4,100 races in a career that has been marked by frequent license revocations. California had rescinded the rider’s provisional license in 2007, after Valenzuela was charged with drunken driving.