06/24/2004 11:00PM

Meet title still within PVal's reach

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Patrick Valenzuela will return to riding on Thursday at Hollywood Park after serving a one-month suspension for violating the terms of his conditional license earlier this year.

Despite being gone for all of June, Valenzuela has not fallen far in the jockey standings. Through Thursday, he was tied for third, and has enough time before the meeting ends on July 18 to regain the lead.

"We are definitely aware of that," said his agent, former jockey Corey Black.

Through Thursday, Corey Nakatani led the standings with 40 wins, followed by Tyler Baze (35), Valenzuela and Victor Espinoza (33), Javier Santiago (31), and apprentice jockey Mick Ruis (29).

Valenzuela will be eligible to ride the final 14 racing days of the meeting.

Valenzuela, who won riding titles at the five major meetings in Southern California last year, was suspended for four months by the California Horse Racing Board on May 18 for missing a mandatory drug test in January. He was given three months credit for time served from late January to late April, and ordered to serve the remaining month in June.

In an effort to ride Rock Hard Ten in the Belmont Stakes on June 5, Valenzuela sought a one-week stay of the suspension in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 1, but the stay was denied. Rock Hard Ten finished fifth in the Belmont Stakes under Alex Solis.

The suspension did not preclude Valenzuela from exercising horses in the morning. Black said that Valenzuela intended to be at Santa Anita on Saturday to resume working horses in advance of his comeback.

Valenzuela is not likely to ride the entire eight-race program on Thursday, Black said. "I'll aim for three or four," he said.

Valenzuela, who did not return phone calls seeking comment on Thursday and Friday, has been booked to ride two of the major stakes on July 3, Black said.

Valenzuela will ride Hollywood Story in the $750,000 American Oaks for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/4 miles on turf and Kela in the $300,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap over seven furlongs.

Valenzuela was aboard Hollywood Story when she won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes last December, the filly's only win in nine starts.

Hollywood Story is the only probable starter in the American Oaks field that has not won or placed in a turf stakes.

House of Fortune unlikely for Oaks

House of Fortune, the winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks on June 12, has not started on turf, but is unlikely to run in the American Oaks. Trainer Ron McAnally cited the distance and House of Fortune's lack of experience on the surface as two reasons she is unikely to start.

If House of Fortune does not start, she would be the fourth defection from the original list.

In the first two years the race was run, three fillies from the original list of invitations did not start. In 2002, Alozaina, who received a late invitation, finished third behind Megahertz and Dublino.

The expected field for this year's American Oaks includes Boulevardofdreams, Dance in the Mood, Eternal Melody, Hollywood Story, Kalatuna, Lovely Rafaela, Mambo Slew, Miss Vegas, Misty Heights, Steel Princess, Ticker Tape, Western Hemisphere, and Western Ransom.

Misty Heights is trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld, who won the 2003 American Oaks with Dimitrova. Misty Heights won the lone stakes of her eight-race career in the minor Victor McCalmont Stakes over 1 3/16 miles on turf at Gowran Park in Ireland on June 6.

Sore shins plague Castledale

Castledale, the winner of the Santa Anita Derby who has not started since finishing 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will not start in the Swaps Stakes on July 10 because of sore shins, according to co-owner Frank Lyons.

"They've been bugging him since the Derby," Lyons said.

Trained by Jeff Mullins for Lyons and Greg Knee, Castledale will be pointed for a fall campaign with the Hollywood Derby on turf as a primary goal, Lyons said.

Last fall, Castledale won the Generous Stakes over a mile on this turf course.

The Swaps Stakes is not in the plans for Borrego, who was second to Smarty Jones in the Arkansas Derby and 10th in the Kentucky Derby.

Trainer Beau Greely said Borrego is being pointed for the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 28 with a prep race likely.

"We gave him two weeks off after the Derby," Greely said. "Since then, he's been jogging and galloping. If everything goes well, there is the possibility of the Travers."

Adoration gets a vacation

Adoration, the winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff last fall and the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 12, is being given a break in advance of a late summer and fall campaign geared toward a start in the BC Distaff at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30.

Trainer David Hofmans said he may start Adoration in the $150,000 Arlington Matron Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Arlington Park on Sept. 4, and the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap over 1 1/16 miles at Oak Tree at Santa Anita in advance of the BC Distaff.

He has not ruled out a start at Del Mar in the $300,000 Clement Hirsch Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Aug. 8 in place of the Arlington Matron.

"We're trying to keep her fresh," Hofmans said.

No stakes just yet for Geronimo

Geronimo ended a four-race losing streak with a victory in an allowance race over 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Even though Geronimo scored by 1 1/2 lengths over Tunder Ponche, trainer Mike Machowsky is not eager to start Geronimo in a stakes in the near future. He said he will seek another allowance race before trying tougher competition.

"I wanted to give him a confidence booster," Machowsky said.

Owned by a partnership, Geronimo, 5, finished third in the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park on May 30. Last fall, Geronimo placed in two graded sprint stakes - a second in the Grade 3 Turf Express at Hollywood and a third in the Grade 3 Morvich Handicap at Santa Anita.