01/12/2005 12:00AM

Valenzuela to ride Saturday


ARCADIA, Calif. - Southern California horsemen are lining up to give calls to jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who will resume riding full time Saturday at Santa Anita after being issued a conditional license Wednesday by the California Horse Racing Board.

The CHRB issued the license after a 90-minute meeting with Valenzuela and attorney Neil Papiano to discuss terms. Papiano said Valenzuela must "submit to any reasonable test, including a urine test every three days. We agreed to reasonable tests that will satisfy everyone." Valenzuela has a history of substance-abuse problems and undergoes regular testing as terms of his license.

Valenzuela's license is effective Thursday through Dec. 31, and includes provisions for testing hair strands, and testing at other racing jurisdictions. Further, Valenzuela agreed to "maintain hair on his head that is a minimum of one and one-half inches in length and of sufficient quantity [minimum 150 strands/shafts] to submit a satisfactory sample for hair-strand/shaft testing."

Valenzuela, 42, has not ridden since July 1, 2004, at Hollywood Park. Stewards ruled on July 2 that he did not meet requirements of his license, which included hair-follicle testing, because Valenzuela had shaved his body hair. In August, Valenzuela was suspended for the remainder of 2004. Valenzuela fought the ruling, and last Friday the CHRB conceded that the suspension was technically unjust.

Valenzuela was thrilled at the prospect of a busy Saturday in the saddle.

"It just feels good," he said Wednesday. "I'm very thankful. I'm always going to look at the optimistic part of it, and always try to do my best."

Valenzuela has five calls Saturday, according to his agent, Ron Ebanks. Among them is Mass Media in Saturday's Grade 2 San Fernando Stakes, for trainer Bobby Frankel.

Other trainers using Valenzuela Saturday include Jeff Mullins, Mike Mitchell, and Eoin Harty.

"I don't care about his personal problems or his past - he rides to win," Harty said. "You know that at some stage of the race, he'll put your horse in position to win. As long as he has a license, I'll use him."