02/10/2004 12:00AM

Valenzuela meeting planned


ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela resurfaced Sunday in a telephone call to racetrack stewards, and he was scheduled to meet Wednesday with stewards and a representative of the California Horse Racing Board.

The telephone call was the first communication Valenzuela has had with racing officials since Jan. 22, when he told stewards he twisted his ankle and was unable to fulfill his riding engagements that afternoon. The jockey was directed to come to the track and submit to a mandatory drug test, as specified by terms of his conditional license, but did not show up. One day later, on Jan. 23, Valenzuela's license was summarily suspended.

Steward Pete Pedersen spoke with Valenzuela on Sunday. "He sounded pretty good, he said he was anxious to talk to us, and asked if we could set up an official hearing."

The Wednesday meeting, said Pedersen, "will probably be informal."

Pedersen said Valenzuela told him "he'd been in the depths of depression, and it was a hard fight, and he's coming out of it." Pedersen said Valenzuela told him he would be accompanied Wednesday by a friend who was not an attorney.

Valenzuela will be meeting Wednesday with Pedersen, stewards Ingrid Fermin and Tom Ward, and the racing board's regional supervisor, Mike Kilpack. Pedersen and Fermin both emphasized that the meeting with Valenzuela was not an "official hearing." Pedersen said Valenzuela "will be given the privilege of 10 days [notice] for a hearing." Valenzuela could submit a drug test on Wednesday. The terms of his conditional license, spelled out in a contract, specify that Valenzuela submit to a drug test whenever directed by stewards.

"Being clean, at this point, is not the issue," Fermin said, explaining that stewards suspended Valenzuela's license based on two factors. "There were two points to the contract that were very specific. One, he was told to come in [for a drug test], and he didn't. Two, any violation of the contract results in [termination] of his license. We chose suspension over termination because we had not heard from him."