01/07/2005 1:00AM

Valenzuela awaits another ruling


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board was to meet Friday to discuss a ruling by an administrative law judge that supported jockey Patrick Valenzuela's contention that he was unjustly suspended. The administrative law judge, H. Stuart Waxman, ruled in November that the Del Mar stewards were in error when they suspended Valenzuela in August for failing to submit to a hair follicle test at Hollywood Park in July.

The decision was released by the board Thursday evening through the California Public Records Act.

The board on Friday can reject, modify, or accept Waxman's decision.

In a nine-page decision, Waxman cited four points in favor of Valenzuela: That hair follicle testing did not mean "hair strand testing"; that Valenzuela "did not know that he was required to maintain his hair at a certain length to submit to the hair follicle testing"; that Valenzuela "did not have proper notice that he was to submit to hair strand or hair shaft testing"; and that Valenzuela "did not fail to comply with the order to submit to hair follicle testing."

Hair follicle testing is considered more thorough than blood or urine testing in detecting substance abuse over a period of time.

Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse problems, was ordered by the board to undergo hair follicle testing last July as a condition of his reinstatement for missing a mandatory drug test in January 2004.