Patrick Valenzuela

Patrick Valenzuela

Benoit Photo

Pat Valenzuela Announces Latest Comeback

Veteran rider plans to return in time for opening day at Hollywood Park spring meet.

Patrick Valenzuela has announced his latest comeback through agent Tom Knust, saying he plans to return to race riding at Betfair Hollywood Park April 26.

“He’ll start the first day at Hollywood,” Knust told the publicity department at Santa Anita Park April 12.

The 49-year-old Valenzuela announced his retirement from riding just over four months ago, citing gall bladder surgery and his constant struggle to make weight. But rumors began circulating almost immediately that he would be making a comeback. He last rode on Nov. 13 at Hollywood Park.

“I’m happy to hear it,” said his cousin, former jockey Fernando Valenzuela, 41, now an exercise rider. “Patrick is better off when he’s working. He needs to lose four or five more pounds and he’ll be ready. I know he wants to be back to ride Acclamation in the Inglewood (gr. IIIT).”

The Inglewood Handicap at 1 1/8 miles on turf is to be contested April 27. Valenzuela rode Acclamation to victories in his last two races, the Pacific Classic (gr. I) Aug. 28 and the Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Oct. 2. Acclamation sustained a foot injury after that and has not raced since.

The Eclipse Award winner as outstanding older male of 2011, the California-bred Acclamation worked one mile on Santa Anita’s main track April 12 for trainer Don Warren. He was timed in 1:40 1/5 with Fernando Valenzuela aboard.

P. Val, as he is known on the track, began his career in 1978 and has 4,233 victories, highlighted by his triumph in the 1989 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) aboard Sunday Silence. He won 113 races in 2011 and has total career purse earnings of nearly $163,893,554, ranking him 19th on the all-time list, according to Equibase.