07/20/2016 5:32PM

Valenzuela denied jockey’s license by California Horse Racing Board

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Barbara D. Livingston
Patrick Valenzuela has been denied a jockey's license by the California Horse Racing Board.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Jockey Patrick Valenzuela has been denied a jockey’s license by the California Horse Racing Board, ending a months-long quest to resume his troubled career on the West Coast.

Wednesday, the racing board announced that it had adopted the recommendation of hearing officer Patrick Kane who proposed Valenzuela be denied a license for repeated violations for substance-abuse issues in his career. Kane recommended that Valenzuela reapply for a license in a year and that he undergo drug and alcohol testing on a weekly basis in the interim.

Valenzuela has an active exercise rider’s license and will be permitted to continue working in that capacity. In a brief phone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Valenzuela did not comment on the racing board’s decision. He sought a license to ride at the current Del Mar summer meeting, which began last Friday.

Valenzuela, who has not ridden since February in Louisiana, was denied a request for a jockey’s license by the racing board in March. He appealed the decision, resulting in a hearing with Kane in April. The racing board reached its decision in an executive session July 14 at Del Mar after reviewing Kane’s proposed decision.

The racing board had the option of accepting, rejecting, or modifying Kane’s proposal, which was presented to the board in late June.

According to a one-page statement released by the racing board, Kane’s proposed decision included several references to substance-abuse problems that have interrupted Valenzuela’s career.

“This Officer cannot ignore the number of chances the CHRB previously gave” Valenzuela, Kane wrote. “It should be noted that since 2000, [Valenzuela] has what this Officer considers 15 major rule violations and/or convictions.”

Kane said he was “encouraged” that Valenzuela did not have substance-abuse violations in the last six months, but stated “a six-month record free of violations fails to demonstrate adequate rehabilitation in light of [Valenzuela’s] numerous past transgressions.”

Before he potentially reapplies for a license in 2017, the racing board has ordered Valenzuela undergo counseling with the Winner’s Foundation, which provides people in California racing assistance with alcohol- and substance-abuse problems.

Valenzuela, 53, has won 4,366 races, including the 1989 Kentucky Derby on Sunday Silence.

In recent weeks, Valenzuela has been exercising horses at Santa Anita with the goal of resuming his career.

Valenzuela has not ridden in California since early 2014.

Valenzuela lost a request to be reinstated as a jockey in California in July 2015 after he was suspended by Santa Anita stewards in March 2014 for failing to appear to ride on consecutive days at Santa Anita in January 2014.

At the time, the stewards stated Valenzuela should not be reinstated in any capacity.

Valenzuela appealed the decision to a hearing officer who recommended the rider be reinstated. The racing board rejected the decision, but allowed Valenzuela to hold an exercise rider’s license in the state. The decision was reached in a stipulated agreement between the rider and racing board. At the time, Valenzuela was not eligible to ride races through the term of his California license, which expired last October.

Valenzuela rode in Louisiana last fall and winter because he had a valid license in that state. Valenzuela won 19 races in Louisiana and Texas from late November to late February. He stopped riding in late February because of a hand injury, he said in late June.