09/10/2003 11:00PM

Valenzuela, Berrio fined


DEL MAR, Calif. - Patrick Valenzuela, the leading rider at Del Mar, and jockey Omar Berrio were each fined $500 by Del Mar stewards on Wednesday for fighting following Monday's third race.

The fight was preceded by the disqualification of Valenzuela's mount, Grinding It Out, from first to last place for interfering with Berrio's mount, Westward Star. The stewards gave Valenzuela a five-day suspension for careless riding for that incident.

Valenzuela was ordered to serve those days from Oct. 1-5 at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, but Valenzuela often has appealed suspensions. Not including this suspension, he already has 16 days of suspensions this year on appeal.

The stewards conducted a hearing into the fight on Wednesday morning, at which they heard testimony from Valenzuela, Berrio, jockey Frank Alvarado, and two Del Mar security guards who rushed into the jockeys' room to help break up the fight. According to several witnesses, the fight began just outside the jockeys' room, when Valenzuela shoved Berrio, and then escalated into a brawl inside the room.

Berrio said that Alvarado, jockey Max Corrales, and Steve Trevino - who works in the jockeys' room - all tried to break up the fight, along with security guards. Valenzuela said that while defending himself against Berrio, he was struck from behind by someone he could not see, and he testified that Alvarado punched him as he was being pulled away from Berrio.

"I did not hit him," Alvarado testified. "I was trying to break up the fight."