07/13/2004 11:00PM

Valenzuela hearing put off

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A hearing scheduled before Hollywood Park stewards on Thursday regarding jockey Patrick Valenzuela's recent suspension for failing to submit to a hair-follicle test has been postponed.

Wednesday, the Hollywood stewards granted a request for continuance to Deputy Attorney General Jim Ahern, who asked for more time to schedule an expert witness to discuss hair-follicle testing and analysis.

A hearing could be held in August, according to Ahern, who will argue the case on behalf of the California Horse Racing Board.

Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse problems, was suspended 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 returned from a 30-day suspension for failing to submit to a mandatory urine test in January.

Valenzuela, 41, 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.

Neil Papiano, Valenzuela's attorney, said the rider had hair on his head when he met with him last week. Papiano said he might seek court action to allow Valenzuela to resume riding until a hearing is conducted. He emphasized that Valenzuela passed three urine tests conducted by racing board investigators on July 1.