08/30/2007 12:00AM

Valenzuela planning return

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Former leading jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has not ridden since last November, said earlier this week that he is still hoping to make a comeback this fall from a knee injury. Valenzuela has not set a timetable for a return.

Earlier this summer, Valenzuela, 44, said he hoped to ride at Del Mar, but he has not been present at this meeting. He scoffed at a question about whether his 29-year riding career was over.

"I see myself coming back," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm not completely healed, but better."

Valenzuela suffered a rib injury when kicked in the paddock at Hollywood Park on Nov. 26. While recovering from that injury, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on a knee in December. Valenzuela initially discussed a comeback at the beginning of the year, but has postponed his return on several occasions.

"I've been going to doctor's appointments and physical therapy," he said. "I don't want to ride with pain."

Valenzuela said he planned to continue physical therapy and discussions with doctors. Earlier this summer, he said that Dr. James Tibone, who works closely with Southern California jockeys, had injected a lubricating gel into the knee to aid healing.

"I can do some exercise," he said. "There is just a lot of pain. If I have to, I'll probably have to work through the pain. It is getting better. It's a process of time."

The winner of 15 riding titles in Southern California since 1986, Valenzuela has had a history of substance abuse problems. He is not currently licensed by the California Horse Racing Board. In the past, Valenzuela was issued a one-year provisional license that allowed the racing board to perform random drug testing. Earlier this year, Valenzuela said he would approach racing board officials regarding his license as he nears a comeback.

Golden Doc A set for quick return

Golden Doc A, the upset winner of Wednesday's $108,800 Generous Portion Stakes for statebred 2-year-old fillies as a maiden, will not stay idle for long. Trainer Barry Abrams said Thursday that Golden Doc A will return in Monday's $100,000 I'm Smokin Stakes, a six-furlong race for statebreds. It will be her first start against males. Golden Doc A was supplemented for $1,000.

"I'll take a shot," Abrams said. "She came out feeling great. If she's feeling as good as she is this morning, she'll run. If not, we'll wait."

In the Generous Portion, Golden Doc A ($35.80) rallied from seventh in a field of eight under Victor Espinoza to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the first-time starter Champagne Miss. Golden Doc A ran six furlongs in 1:12.98.

Owned by Madeline Auerbach, and Barry, David, and Dyan Abrams, Golden Doc A was fifth in her career debut at Hollywood Park on July 8 and missed the CTBA Stakes July 20 because of a bout of colic.

Champagne Miss, trained by Dan Hendricks, had a tough trip. Sent off at 16-1, Champagne Miss broke slowly, trailed by 18 lengths on the backstretch, but closed well to finish 5 1/2 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Proud Garrison, a 17-1 shot. The $1 trifecta returned $1,709.50.

Review puts Knockout Artist in derby

A clerical error in computing the order of preferred horses for Sunday's $400,000 Del Mar Derby almost prevented Knockout Artist from starting in the Grade 2 race over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Del Mar officials said.

The derby drew 21 nominations, but has a safety limit of 10 starters because of the narrow turf course. Del Mar officials ranked the 21 nominees in order of preference, with winners of graded or group stakes preferred over horses that finished second or third in graded or group stakes. The final tiebreaker was earnings in non-claiming races.

Initially, Knockout Artist, a winner of a division of the Oceanside Stakes on July 18, was ranked 15th, but officials took a closer look at his earnings and realized Knockout Artist should be included in the field in the place of Ten a Penny, who is on the also-eligible list. Star Inside, who was initially ranked in front of Knockout Artist, also is on the also-eligible list.

Ten a Penny won a division of the Oceanside Stakes and was fourth in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap. He has earned $91,978, all in non-claiming races. Knockout Artist, a former maiden claimer, has earned $92,270 in non-claiming races. He has not started in a graded stakes.

"Knockout Artist's money was added wrong," assistant racing secretary Rick Hammerle said.

Ten a Penny will stay on the program until Sunday morning in the event of a late scratch, according to director of racing Tom Robbins.

Dixie Chatter work impresses

Dixie Chatter, a maiden race winner at Hollywood Park on July 7, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Thursday for the $250,000 Del Mar Futurity on Wednesday. The style of the workout left trainer Richard Mandella with the impression that Dixie Chatter could pull an upset in the Grade 1 race over seven furlongs.

Mandella, who described the workout as "awesome" and "unbelievable," timed Dixie Chatter in 1:00.32, with a final quarter-mile in 22.91 seconds.

"I kind of liked it," Mandella said.

Drill Down, a maiden winner on July 28, may go favored in the Futurity. Trained by Mike Machowsky, Drill Down worked five furlongs in 1:02 on Thursday.

Other probable starters are E Z's Gentleman, Georgie Boy, Good Man Dan, Kanan Dume, Leonides, Overextended, Salute the Sarge, and Whatever Whenever. Salute the Sarge won the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Best Pal Stakes this summer.

Baze uninjured in riding incident

Michael Baze, on course to win the riding title at this meeting for the first time, escaped injury Wednesday when he stayed aboard Valiant Effort when the gelding jumped a temporary rail in the stretch run of a one-mile turf race.

Valiant Effort was racing on the rail behind the leaders when he reacted to Baze striking him with his whip right-handed in the final furlong. Valiant Effort struck the temporary rail, jumped over it, but did not fall. Baze lost an iron, but did not lose his balance.

Jockey Aaron Gryder, riding Unusual Treasure, watched the incident unfold in disbelief.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," said Gryder. "The horse never missed a stride. I was right next to him and I thought, 'How bad is this going to be?'"