02/27/2004 12:00AM

Valenzuela preparing case

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Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has been suspended since Jan. 23 for failing to appear for a drug test the previous day, said Thursday that he will ask the Santa Anita stewards for a reinstatement hearing in the near future.

Valenzuela said he was in the process of gathering documents related to his absence that he says will help his bid to regain his riding license.

Valenzuela had an informal meeting with the Santa Anita stewards Feb. 11. The next stage toward a possible reinstatement would be a formal meeting, which he has yet to request.

In a brief telephone conversation, Valenzuela declined to reveal the nature of the documents he is gathering.

"I've got a couple of items I need to produce to the stewards," Valenzuela said. "I've let the stewards know. They told me to call when I have the items."

Valenzuela won riding titles at five meetings in Southern California last year. He has not ridden since Jan. 19. He took off his mounts Jan. 22 and was told by track stewards to appear at Santa Anita that day for a routine drug test. When he failed to appear, he was suspended.

Valenzuela, whose career has been troubled by a long history of substance abuse problems, said Thursday that he is confident he will be reinstated.

"I'm doing well," he said. "You'll see the riding that you've seen before."