07/15/2004 11:00PM

Valenzuela denied stay of ban


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela on Friday was denied a stay of his recent suspension by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, ending any chance of a return to riding on Wednesday's opening day at Del Mar.

But judge David Yaffe said Valenzuela could return to court on July 29 and request another stay if the Del Mar board of stewards has not conducted a hearing by then regarding Valenzuela's suspension by the Hollywood Park board of stewards on July 2 for failing to take a hair-follicle test.

Valenzuela's attorney, Neil Papiano, said he is hopeful that a hearing can be conducted as early as next week.

Deputy Attorney General Jim Ahern, who appeared in court on Friday on behalf of the California Horse Racing Board, said a hearing could be held next Friday or on July 29.

A hearing before Hollywood Park stewards Pete Pedersen, George Slender, and Tom Ward was scheduled for Thursday but postponed after the stewards granted a request for continuance to Ahern, who asked for more time to schedule an expert witness to discuss hair-follicle testing and analysis.

Papiano said he was disappointed that a stay was not granted on Friday, and repeated his frustration at the delays in conducting the hearing.

"It's good they have to have the hearing, which they have been avoiding," he said. "I'm making a written request [to have the hearing] for the second, third, or fourth day at Del Mar. I'd like to have the hearing tomorrow morning."

Valenzuela, 41, was suspended on July 2 for failing to comply with the terms of his conditional license, which requires that he submit to a hair-follicle test. The suspension came one day after Valenzuela's returned from a 30-day suspension for failing to submit to a mandatory drug test in January.

Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse problems, said in early July that he was unable to take the hair-follicle test because he had fully shaved his body and could not provide the necessary sample. Papiano said earlier this week that Valenzuela has a crew cut, which he would have shaved off at Thursday's hearing to provide the necessary hair for the test.

Part of Friday's court hearing discussed how long Valenzuela's hair must be for a hair-follicle test, Papiano said.

"They haven't told us how long the hair has to be," Papiano said.