Valenzuela Says He Didn't Know of Hair Test
At his hearing before Del Mar stewards, Valenzuela was one of three witnesses to testify over three hours Sunday morning. It was the third and final day of the hearing, which required seven hours to complete. It began Thursday and was resumed Friday. Stewards indicated a decision on Valenzuela's will be announced this week.
According to Valenzuela, who was called to testify by deputy attorney general Jim Ahern, he never received a copy of the administrative order dated May 26. It directed the rider to be subjected to hair follicle testing. Ahern noted that the order had been sent both to Valenzuela's home via certified mail and also to his attorney.
Valenzuela said he wasn't aware of it. He said he didn't learn that hair testing was required of him until he reported to ride at Hollywood Park on July 1.
"I think I heard it first from Corey Nakatani in the jocks' room," Valenzuela testified. "I knew I was suspended another month, that's what I knew. (Agent) Corey Black told me. I didn't know it was in (the administrative order) at all. They said they were going to apply some other testing but I didn't know what they were talking about."
Also testifying on Sunday was California Horse Racing Board supervising investigator Mike Kilpack, as well as CHRB senior special investigator Richard Guerrero. Both men recited Valenzuela's successful testing history since being issued his conditional license in 2001. But they said he had insufficient hair to be tested on the day he was suspended.
Guerrero said Valenzuela told him, "'I cannot give you what I do not have.'"
In his closing statements, Ahern reminded the three-member panel of stewards of Valenzuela's history with suspensions for drug infractions over his career, as well as the image of horseracing to the general public.
"There are two issues here," Ahern said. "The first is that the other riders and horses are safe as a result of Mr. Valenzuela riding and the second is the integrity of the sport of horseracing.
"There is a history here, a history of disciplinary problems and unfortunately it's a long history. The Board is asserting (Valenzuela) had proper notice to provide hair for testing based on the administrative order dated May 26 and requests that the ruling (suspending the jockey) be upheld."Valenzuela' attorney, Neil Papiano, argued that Valenzuela was not informed properly. "There were no notices given to Mr. Valenzuela regarding hair length requirement," Papiano said. "He never violated any rule in the order because he never refused to take any test, either hair or urine, and he never failed any test. It is inequitable and unjust to have him suspended."There is no document that says or no order to even grow hair, but he will even though it's a waste of time and money. (The suspension) has taken away his living and there's no real justification for that. The investigators want more than what's in the order. He wants to ride and he wants to earn a living. He's just asking for what's reasonable under the circumstances."
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