01/10/2005 1:00AM

Valenzuela to meet with stewards Wednesday

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Imperialism is scheduled to make his next start in Saturday's Grade 2 San Fernando BC.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Patrick Valenzuela, who successfully appealed a suspension last week for failing to take a hair follicle test last summer, will appear at a hearing before the Santa Anita stewards on Wednesday, the next step in regaining his license and returning to riding.

Valenzuela, 42, said he would like to ride this week. Even though he has not ridden since July 1, Valenzuela said last week that he is fit for a return.

At Wednesday's hearing, Valenzuela's attorney, Neil Papiano, will ask for Valenzuela to be issued a jockey's license. The license is likely to include provisions for random drug testing, a condition included in recent licenses held by Valenzuela.

Last week, the CHRB adopted the decision of administrative law judge H. Stuart Waxman, who ruled in November that Valenzuela should not have been suspended by the Del Mar stewards last August for failing to take a hair follicle test at Hollywood Park in July. Valenzuela was unable to take the test because he had shaved the hair on his body.

In his decision, Waxman wrote that Valenzuela was not aware how long his hair needed to be for follicle testing, that the board did not properly inform Valenzuela of the testing procedures, and that Valenzuela was not at fault for failing to comply.

The CHRB's adoption of Waxman's decision gives Valenzuela another chance to revive his troubled career, which has been interrupted several times because of substance-abuse problems. Valenzuela led the standings in all five of the major meetings in Southern California in 2003.

The hair follicle test was ordered by the CHRB last May as part of a condition of Valenzuela's reinstatement after he missed a mandatory drug test in January 2004. Hair follicle testing is considered more thorough than blood or urine testing in detecting substance abuse.

Agreement to buy Ticker Tape falls through

The sale of Ticker Tape, the winner of two Grade 1 turf races for 3-year-old fillies, fell through late last week, according to her trainer, Jim Cassidy.

Owners Jim Ford, Deron Pearson, and Jack Sweesy were negotiating with NeverTell Farm of Versailles, Ky., but the deal was not completed by a deadline last Friday, Cassidy said.

Ticker Tape, a winner of 7 of 18 starts and $1,267,426, is not in serious training, Cassidy said. Last year, she won the American Oaks at Hollywood Park and the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. In her most recent start, she finished third in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park.

"We'll take it easy on her and try to get a race into her in early April," Ford said.

Imperialism's weekend workout canceled

Imperialism, who is scheduled to make his next start in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes, was supposed to work in company with stablemate Fantastic Spain just after Sunday's first race at Santa Anita. But his trainer, Kristin Mulhall, canceled the work after a fatal breakdown in the day's first race.

The remainder of Sunday's race card was also subsequently canceled.

Imperialism is winless since capturing the San Vicente and San Rafael stakes last year, but most recently finished third in the Hollywood Derby. He also was third in last year's Kentucky Derby.

Douglas two wins away from No. 3,000

Jockey Rene Douglas, who has rocketed to the top of the local standings since his return last fall from Chicago, is closing in on career win No. 3,000. Entering Wednesday's races at Santa Anita, he is just two away at 2,998.

"It's always nice to hit a goal," Douglas said. "It makes you feel good. It feels so good to be at Santa Anita and doing good right now. I couldn't ask for anything better right now, except for my family to be here."

Douglas's family is in Florida because his children are in school year-round there.

Marking time with Declan's Moon

In addition to washing out racing at Santa Anita on Sunday, the rain has wreaked havoc on training schedules at Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. Both main tracks have frequently been closed for workouts over the past two weeks.

Among the horses affected by the weather is Declan's Moon, the undefeated winner of the Hollywood Futurity, who is the favorite to be named champion 2-year-old male of 2004. Ron Ellis, who trains Declan's Moon, said he has been doing little with Declan's Moon over the past fortnight.

"Just jogging here and there," Ellis said. "We jog him when we can."

Declan's Moon is not expected to make his 3-year-old debut until March.

* The TOC has made a $25,000 contribution to the Winners Foundation, matching a donation made by prominent horse owner Bob Lewis. The Winners Foundation is based in California and aids people in racing with substance-abuse problems.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman