05/29/2008 11:00PM

P. Val resumes riding at new home


Jockey Patrick Valenzuela was last in the Louisiana Downs winner's circle in 1989, aboard Sunday Silence following the Super Derby. Sunday, he hopes to be back in that same enclosure after he rides three horses on the card in Bossier City, La.

The mounts are Valenzuela's first since Dec. 26 at Santa Anita. His conditional license in California was revoked shortly afterward for a DUI charge, but he is in good standing in Louisiana, where he rode in the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot the first weekend in December at Delta Downs.

These days, Valenzuela, 45, is based at Louisiana Downs. He has been working horses at the track the last two weeks, and returned to Bossier City on Wednesday after attending his daughter's graduation in California. He said he is pleased with where he stands physically for his first mounts in five months.

"I feel great," he said. "I'm a little heavier than what I'd like to be. I'll probably tack 122, 123 [pounds] the first weekend and then get down to 120 the second weekend, then down to 118. I'm just going to do it the right way."

Valenzuela is easing into his comeback. His first mount will come in the second race aboard Arms, for trainer Ray Shumake. He also is named on Major Jeff in the sixth race for trainer Steve Wren, and on Winning Forum in the seventh race for trainer Andrew Konkoly.

"He'll probably ride three or four a day the first week or so," said Jerry Reites, who is the agent for Valenzuela.

Reites, 45, is one of the top agents in Louisiana. Some of his past riders have included Jamie Theriot, who is now based in Kentucky. He is a longtime agent for John Jacinto, who was the leading rider a year ago at Louisiana Downs.

Valenzuela last rode at Louisiana Downs in 1996, when he came to town for three stakes engagements and finished second in two of them. He plans to be in Bossier City for the duration of the current meet, which runs through October.

"I'm here on a daily basis to participate in Louisiana racing," he said. "The horsemen here have just been so gracious."

Valenzuela is a strong addition to the Louisiana Downs colony. He won the Kentucky Derby aboard Sunday Silence, and has seven Breeders' Cup wins on his resume. His career, however, has been disrupted at times by substance-abuse problems. Overall, he has 3,968 career victories and mount earnings of $149 million since he won his first career race at Sunland Park in 1978.

Stella Mark probable for San Diego

Stella Mark, a $50,000 claim who ran a big third in the Grade 3, $400,000 Lone Star Park Handicap last week at Lone Star, could make his next start in the Grade 2, $300,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on July 20, said his trainer, Ted H. West.

Stella Mark has stepped up his game of late, winning the $150,000 Tiznow for California-breds at Hollywood Park in his stakes debut in April before shipping to Texas. A front-runner, he closed for third to Giant Gizmo in the Lone Star after stumbling at the start of the 1 1/16-mile race run Monday.

"We were real happy with his first stakes win in the Tiznow," said West. "And I was even more happy with the effort in Texas, just because he showed that he could overcome so much adversity and still run a very good race."

Stella Mark is owned by Jeffrey Sengara, who claimed Budroyale and Bluesthestandard for $50,000, and with West as trainer won multiple graded stakes with the horses. Bluesthestandard registered one of them at Lone Star, in the Grade 3 Texas Mile in 2003.

"Stella Mark still has a little more proving himself to do, but I really like his pattern right now," said West. "I think he's improved with every race that we've run him."

Sumfun in sharp form

Sumfun brings the best recent form into the fourth race Sunday at Louisiana Downs. A 5 1/2-furlong allowance sprint, the race drew stakes winners Venomous and Nuttyboom. But the sharpest horse in the race is Sumfun, who has won his last two starts, including the $50,000 Route 66 at Will Rogers Downs on May 3. Carlos Gonzalez has the mount for trainer Bret Calhoun.

* Greeley's Conquest will make his turf debut in the featured eighth race Sunday at Lone Star. The field for the $50,000 optional claimer at five furlongs on turf also includes stakes winners Marq French, Toga Too, Gold Wonder, Rusted Steel, and Forrest G.

* A benefit golf tournament for the Race Track Chaplaincy of Texas will be held Monday at Mansfield National Gold Club in Mansfield, Texas.