07/02/2004 11:00PM

Valenzuela suspended again


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who was suspended for the month of June for failing to submit to a drug test in January, was suspended again by the Hollywood Park board of stewards on Friday for failing to comply with a term of his conditional license that requires he submit to a hair follicle test.

The latest suspension came one day after Valenzuela returned to riding from the June suspension.

Valenzuela, 41, said he was unable to take the test because he had fully shaved his body and could not provide a sample. According to a statement released by the California Horse Racing Board, Valenzuela did not have a sufficient quantity of hair on any part on his body. Hair follicle tests require approximately 100 strands of hair.

Stewards Pete Pedersen, George Slender, and Tom Ward summarily suspended Valenzuela. A hearing is scheduled for Friday. The suspension led to Valenzuela being removed from his mounts from Friday through Sunday.

In a telephone conversation late Friday, Valenzuela hotly disputed the circumstances of the suspension, even though he was aware that a hair follicle test was possible.

"My hair isn't long enough to test," he said. "They never asked me to grow hair. It's not my fault. I'm really irate."

Valenzuela appeared before the Hollywood Park stewards on Friday when he was informed of the suspension.

Valenzuela could face a lengthy suspension for failing to submit to the test. The conditional license stipulated that Valenzuela could face "summary termination" of his conditional license for failing to fulfill the conditions.

Valenzuela was suspended for four months by the state racing board on May 18 for missing a mandatory drug test in January, a violation of his conditional license that has been in place since December 2001. Valenzuela was given three months' credit for time served from late January to late April and ordered to serve the remaining month in June.

As part of the May 18 decision, Valenzuela was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service by the end of the year and submit to hair-follicle testing at the board's request "with or without probable cause."

Another condition of the decision stated that "failure to submit to, or failure to complete, the required hair follicle test under this decision is deemed a positive test result and a violation of appellant's conditional license and the decision."

Hair follicle testing is considered to be more comprehensive than urine tests for prohibited substances.

"For the last four years, I've had my head bald," Valenzuela said. "I've always shaved the rest of it."

Valenzuela submitted to at least two urine tests on Thursday, the first day he was eligible to return to riding. The tests were negative.

The leading rider at all five major meetings in Southern California in 2003, Valenzuela is known better for his numerous suspensions for substance abuse violations than his win in the 1989 Kentucky Derby aboard Sunday Silence. Since December 2001, Valenzuela has ridden under a conditional license that forced him to submit to random urine tests when requested to do so by the racing board.