09/30/2009 11:00PM

Valenzuela seeking Calif. license

Benoit & Associates
California Flag earns an automatic berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint with his victory in Wednesday's $100,000 Morvich Handicap on the opening day of the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has ridden in Louisiana for more than a year but is ineligible to race in California because of a license violation, is seeking reinstatement in California, he said Wednesday.

Valenzuela, recovering from a shoulder injury suffered at Louisiana Downs last month, said he recently requested reinstatement from the California Horse Racing Board.

"I've written a letter to the board," Valenzuela said. "I want to ride here and I want to be closer to my family.

"I'll take it one day at a time. If it doesn't happen, I'll go back to New Orleans and ride at Fair Grounds."

Valenzuela's letter has been received by the racing board, according to chairman John Harris. In an e-mail, Harris said the racing board or the board of stewards in Southern California will be consider Valenzuela's request. It is not known how long that will take.

Valenzuela's career has been plagued by substance-abuse problems.

In July 2008, Valenzuela asked the racing board to reinstate his conditional license after it was revoked in December 2007 following a drunken driving arrest.

The racing board revoked the conditional license in September 2008, adopting the proposed decision of an administrative law judge. At the time, the racing board ruled that Valenzuela "is permanently ineligible to reapply for, or to hold, a license issued by the California Horse Racing Board."

Valenzuela, 46, won the 1989 Kentucky Derby aboard Sunday Silence.

Valenzuela attended opening day of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting Wednesday. He said he has spent time in Southern California with family in the last month.

California Cup changes possible

The presence of only 76 horses in Saturday's 10-race California Cup could lead to changes in the 20-year-old stakes program for statebreds, according to Santa Anita director of racing Mike Harlow.

Not all of the California Cup races drew sufficient entries. A $50,000 starter sprint handicap over six furlongs for horses that have started for claiming prices of $32,000 or less failed to fill. It was replaced on the program by a starter allowance over 1 1/8 miles on turf.

Two races drew five-horse fields, the $100,000 Matron and $75,000 Distance Handicap, while the $200,000 Classic and $50,000 Starter Handicap drew just six runners each.

Harlow suggested that the conditions of the Matron, run over 1 1/16 miles, and the Distance Handicap, run over 1 1/4 miles on turf, could be altered, pending conversations with the California Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

"We need to look at ways to restore those races," he said. "The Matron and the Distance are competing for the same horses."

California Flag to try BC again

California Flag's successful defense of his title in Wednesday's $100,000 Morvich Handicap has left trainer Brian Koriner confident that the 5-year-old gelding can fare better in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint on Nov. 7 than his 10th place finish in 2008.

The difference: Koriner said California Flag is a sounder and brighter horse this year. California Flag underwent surgery last winter to have a bone chip removed from an ankle.

His win in Wednesday's Morvich Handicap was his second start of 2009, preceded by a win in the Green Flash Handicap over five furlongs on turf at Del Mar in August.

"He's sounder," Koriner said. "I think he's doing better this year."

In Wednesday's Morvich, California Flag ran about 6 1/2 furlongs on the hillside turf course in 1:11.40 under jockey Joe Talamo, finishing a length in front of 10-1 Get Funky, the winner of the 2007 Morvich.

Bruce's Dream closed from eighth in a field of 10 to finish third. Desert Code, who won the BC Turf Sprint last year in a 36-1 upset, could only finish seventh.

The Morvich was part of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In program, guaranteeing an automatic berth to the BC Turf Sprint for the winner, contingent on the payment of entry fees.

Owned by Keith Card, California Flag, a 5-year-old gelding, has won 7 of 15 starts and $412,996.

Georgie Boy done for season

Georgie Boy, a six-time stakes winner who has earned $788,634, is out for the rest of the year after developing soreness in his hind end, trainer Kathy Walsh said Wednesday.

Georgie Boy, who has not started since winning the Grade 2 San Carlos Handicap here last February, was in training at Del Mar when the decision was made to end any chance of a 2009 campaign. Owned by breeder George Schwary, Georgie Boy was turned out at a farm in Washington.

Earlier this year, Walsh had hoped that Georgie Boy could return to racing in time for Saturday's California Cup Sprint.

Make Music for Me likely to skip BC

Make Music for Me, the maiden that finished second twice to Lookin at Lucky at Del Mar, is not expected to aim for the Breeders' Cup, trainer Alexis Barba said this week.

"He's not nominated, and if we did something, it would be at the 11th hour," Barba said.

Barba said the main goal this season is the Grade 1, $750,000 CashCall Futurity on Dec. 19 at Hollywood Park. What is the plan after that?

"It's a long way to May, and that's everyone's dream," Barba said.

Make Music for Me was unplaced in his debut and then finished second in the Best Pal and Del Mar Futurity.

Barba said Make Music for Me could run in a maiden race at Santa Anita, while the $500,000 Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 10 at Keeneland also is under consideration.

- additional reporting by Brad Free