Returning from an injury that sidelined him since February, embattled jockey Patrick Valenzuela wasted no time in winning his first race at Ruidoso Downs, for Quarter Horses, Sept. 4.
In July, Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse, was denied a jockey license by the California Horse Racing Board but he can re-apply in one year, at which time he would have to present documentation of rehabilitation, including results of regular alcohol and drug testing. His exercise rider license in California is in good standing.
Valenzeula has a provisional jockey license in New Mexico and is subject drug testing at any time.
The winner of 4,365 Thoroughbred races, Valenzuela picked up the mount on the Quarter Horse Linda Tee Fire in the 870-yard first race at Ruidoso. He placed Linda Tee Fire on the lead and they won by a comfortable 4 1/2 lengths.
"It felt really good," Valenzuela said moments after the race with a wide grin. "I've been working a lot of horses at Santa Anita and riding the bike 20 miles a day."
Valenzuela, 53, had not competed in a race since Feb. 26 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.