10/28/2007 11:00PM

Valenzuela gets N.M. license

EmailJockey Patrick Valenzuela, who is seeking a return to riding after an 11-month absence caused by injury, was licensed as a jockey at Zia Park in Hobbs, N.M., over the weekend and began exercise horses at that track, he said.

But Valenzuela said over the weekend that he plans to return to California this week in an effort to gain a jockey's license there and resume riding.

Valenzuela, 45, met with Santa Anita stewards last week, but was not granted a license. California Horse Racing Board officials said last week that Valenzuela will be required to sign an agreement for a conditional license as he has done in recent years, and prove that he weights 125 pounds or less before being granted a license.

One provision of the conditional license is for random drug testing. Valenzuela, who won the 1989 Kentucky Derby and has won seven Breeders' Cup races, has a history of substance abuse problems that have interrupted his career.

Richard Lidberg, a steward at Zia Park, said Valenzuela was licensed in New Mexico because he had no rulings against him.

Valenzuela's agent, Tom Knust, said Valenzuela is targeting the opening of the Hollywood Park fall meet on Nov. 7 as a comeback date.

Valenzuela said Sunday that he exercised three horses on Saturday and six on Sunday at Zia Park. He has not ridden since November 2006 because of a rib injury and subsequent knee surgery.