A warrant has been issued in a California county for the arrest of jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who failed to appear at a recent hearing associated with a charge against him for driving under the influence.
The San Bernardino County Superior Court issued the $50,000 bench warrant March 26 after Valenzuela failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing. According to police reports, the 45-year-old Valenzuela was arrested Dec. 20, 2007 following a collision in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant in Upland, Calif.
A few days following the arrest, Valenzuela’s provisional license to ride in California was suspended. California Horse Racing Board officials said the suspension was based primarily on information provided by police.
A spokeswoman with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office said April 17 that the warrant was still active, but was unsure if Valenzuela was still free or had possibly been arrested.
“The warrant will go to the station that is in the jurisdiction of his last known residence,” said public information officer Arden Wiltshire. “They will attempt to make service on the warrant.”
Wiltshire said any California law enforcement agency would have knowledge of the warrant if they happened to come in contact with Valenzuela and ran a search through available databases.
“If he gets stopped at all, or gets into contact at all with a police officer or California Highway Patrol officer, they will take him into custody,” she said.
According to San Bernardino court records, Valenzuela was also charged in May 2007 with driving 104 m.p.h. in a 70 m.p.h. speed zone, and was fined $361 that October after pleading guilty to a lesser charge. Records show Valenzuela only paid $50 of the fine, and the balance, which now includes an additional $300 assessment fee, has been turned over for collection.
Attempts to reach Valenzuela through his most recent jockey agent, Danny Gargan, weren’t immediately successful.
Gargan, who represented Valenzuela at the Fair Grounds during his recent unsuccessful attempt to ride at the Louisiana track, said he thinks the jock is back in California.
“He’s told me he’s trying to get licensed, but I haven’t talked to him in about a week-and-a-half,” said Gargan, who no longer represents Valenzuela.
According to Kirk Breed, the CHRB's executive director, Valenzuela has not applied for a new conditional license in the state and would be ineligible to do so until after Dec. 31, 2008.
Calls were not returned from the San Bernardino District Attorney’s Office or the county’s public defender’s office, which represented Valenzuela at related hearings since the arrest. Valenzuela pleaded not guilty to the DUI charge Feb. 21.
Valenzuela, who has had his career interrupted multiple times by suspensions and injuries, isn’t credited with a single mount in 2008, and had just 106 starts with 12 winners in all of 2007, according to statistics compiled by The Jockey Club Information Systems. In his career, Valenzuela has 3,969 wins from 25,674 lifetime starts, with $150,677,127 in earnings. Since November 1978, he has been unable to ride because of suspension or license denials for a total of 86 months, or more than seven years.
Among his victories are triumphs in the 1989 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on Sunday Silence, as well rides on seven Breeders’ Cup winners.
Jack Shinar contributed to this article.
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