04/23/2002 11:00PM

Valenzuela making the most of it


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When Patrick Valenzuela last rode at Hollywood Park in the fall of 1999, he nearly beat Laffit Pincay Jr. out of the jockeys' title in the meeting at which Pincay became the world's all-time winningest rider.

"I had a great meet," Valenzuela remembered on Wednesday. "But Laffit was going for the record and he was riding all the 6-5 shots."

Two years later, following a suspension for substance abuse problems that ended in December, Valenzuela is back at Hollywood Park, and is coming off a stellar meeting at Santa Anita.

After a slow start in January, Valenzuela's season gained momentum through the closing weeks at Santa Anita. He was the hottest jockey in the final month of that meeting, winning 17 races from 89 mounts. Overall, he finished sixth in the standings with 42 winners despite missing two weeks because of trip to Dubai and a suspension for a riding infraction in March.

"It was awesome," Valenzuela said of the Santa Anita meeting. "I won more than 30 races in the last two months and was gone for two weeks. I can't complain. Things are going well."

With the national focus on the buildup to the Kentucky Derby, Valenzuela is thinking on a more local basis. As of Wednesday, he had no plans to ride the Kentucky Derby, but was planning on staying at Hollywood Park. With so many top riders out of town, it could result in a quick start for Valenzuela, 39.

Valenzuela has three major mounts in Sunday's California Gold Rush program for statebreds - Roberto's Show in the $250,000 Snow Chief Stakes, Calzada Kid in the $200,000 Melair Stakes; and Flying Rudolph in the $175,000 Khaled Stakes.

"Let's keep our fingers crossed," Valenzuela said. "We've just got good business. I didn't think I'd be this far. I'm happy with my business and the way things are going in general."

$2.80, $6.00, $2.40, that's OK

A huge win bet placed on the winner of the first race led to unusual payoffs in the win and place pools.

Global Finance was 4-1 as the field approached the gate, but was sent off at 2-5. A second-time starter, she attracted $129,461 of the $223,461 bet in the win pool with much of that money coming in at the last minute from a simulcast location in Lewiston, Maine. In the place pool, she attracted bets of $5,879 of a total of $42,958. As a result, Global Finance paid $2.80 to win and $6 to place. Hostility, who was 6-5 approaching the gate, but went off at 9-2, returned $5.40 to place.

The information was not available to much of the ontrack public because the track's tote board was knocked out of use by an early-morning rain shower. Odds information was available only through the television monitors and an infield television that also showed races. Tote board operation was restored by the third race.

No ad applications yet

Advertising was permitted to appear on silks, saddle towels, and jockey apparel as of Wednesday in California, but no jockey has yet raced with an ad.

According to Roy Wood, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, no owners had stepped forward to have advertising on silks approved by track stewards, the first step in the process to use advertising.

"I don't think there is going to be a great demand," Wood said.

The space allowed for advertising is restricted to a jockey's pant leg, boots, and turtleneck as well as the chest area of the silks and saddle towels.

A group of jockeys have agreed to be represented by an organization called Jockey's Management Group, which has yet to sign a sponsor for advertising on pant legs.

Mabee moved to care facility

John Mabee, the former president and chairman of Del Mar who suffered a stroke on April 14, has been moved to a care facility in Del Mar from a local hospital and remains in critical condition. Mabee, 80, was transferred to the Casa Palmera Care Center in Del Mar.

According to a statement released by Del Mar racetrack, Mabee is breathing on his own, but is not responding.

"We continue to hold out a slim hope, but we don't kid ourselves and we temper it with the reality of the situation," his wife, Betty, said in a statement. "It is a matter of dealing with it hour-by-hour, day-by-day."

Millennium Wind works for comeback

Millennium Wind, the winner of the 2001 Blue Grass Stakes, is preparing for a comeback this spring.

Unraced since finishing last of seven in the Skywalker Handicap last November at Santa Anita, Millennium Wind worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 Wednesday at Hollywood.

Trainer David Hofmans said Millennium Wind is over the skin rash and cracked heels that plagued him during his 3-year-old campaign.

"It looks like he'll be ready in three weeks or a month," Hofmans said. "He had a nice workout this morning."