11/24/2011 2:05PM

Valenzuela has emergency gall bladder surgery


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – The strange saga of jockey Patrick Valenzuela took another unexpected turn Thursday, when his agent reported to Hollywood Park’s stewards that Valenzuela had emergency gall bladder surgery on Thursday morning in Kansas.

“He was operated on this morning to remove his gall bladder,” Kim Sawyer, one of Hollywood Park’s stewards, said Thursday morning in the stewards’s office.

Sawyer had been in touch Wednesday and Thursday with Valenzuela’s agent, Tom Knust, who originally thought Valenzuela was going to have the surgery Wednesday night.

Valenzuela, 49, went to Kansas City on Nov. 18 because of what he described to Hollywood Park’s stewards as a family emergency involving his fiancee. That occurred one day after Valenzuela failed to contact the stewards, or Knust, on Nov. 17 and missed his mounts that day at Hollywood Park.

Because of Valenzuela’s numerous suspensions and absences in the past related to substance abuse, stewards pro-actively ordered him to be tested upon his arrival in Kansas. According to steward Tom Ward, acting on information provided by California Horse Racing Board senior investigator Bill Westerman, Valenzuela was tested Monday in Kansas and passed.

“It was clean,” Ward said.

Valenzuela then subsequently developed his gall bladder issues.

Though it is uncertain when Valenzuela will seek to return to action, he will have to meet with Sawyer, Ward, and steward Scott Chaney before being allowed to ride. Last week, all three stewards said Valenzuela would have to pass a drug test and show proof of having traveled to Kansas.

“He still has to come before us,” Ward said Thursday.

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