Jockey Patrick Valenzuela

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela

Benoit Photography

Valenzuela to Resume California Riding Career

State board authorizes the 47-year-old jockey's return after permanent 2008 ban.

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, "permanently" suspended by the California Horse Racing Board in September 2008 following a drunk driving conviction, was given the opportunity to continue his career in the state by the same board following a closed session July 22 at Del Mar.

The path to a conditional license in California was opened to Valenzuela, 47, under the terms of a stipulated agreement approved by board members that will require him to submit to hair follicle testing, according to the CHRB. The testing will be conducted under the auspices of the CHRB and the results known before he is licensed.

The agreement will be in force for as long as Valenzuela is licensed to ride in California, according to the CHRB.

Valenzuela, has been riding in New Mexico and Louisiana the last two years. He had previously failed to regain his license in California during a career marked by substance abuse and numerous suspensions and reinstatements.

“We understand that Valenzuela has been given many chances here in California, and for that reason we have taken great care in reviewing this request for licensure, even to the point of contacting authorities in Louisiana, where he has been riding for the last two years, to learn about his status there,” explained CHRB Chairman Keith Brackpool.

Brackpool said Roy Wood, the former executive director of the CHRB and now the state steward in Louisiana, said Valenzuela has passed all drug and alcohol tests during that time.

"Wood attested to Valenzuela’s good citizenship in Louisiana and said Valenzuela has greatly matured over the last few years," Brackpool said. "Wood’s evaluation was one of our considerations.

"We believe the conditions of the stipulated agreement will insure the protection of the public, other jockeys, the horses, and Valenzuela himself.”

Valenzuela won the 1989 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on Sunday Silence and has won 4,141 races in his career.

He recently hired Tom Knust to be his agent, and he visited the backstretch at Del Mar prior to the opening of the track's season July 21. It was not immediately clear when he plans to resume riding in the state.

According to the CHRB, other conditions of his license include:

--Valenzuela must completely abstain from the possession, injection or consumption of all psychotropic (mood-altering) drugs, including alcohol. He will be subject to random biological fluid and drug screening testing, including hair follicle testing, for the detection of alcohol, narcotics, hypnotics, dangerous drugs, or other controlled substances.

--The Board has the right to charge Valenzuela for the cost of such testing.

--Valenzuela must obey all federal, state, and local laws, and he must provide a full and detailed account of any and all violations of law to the CHRB in writing within 72 hours of occurrence.

--Before Valenzuela may apply for license, he must enter into a contract with the Winners Foundation. He must abide by the organization's requirements, including attendance at three meetings a week of a 12-step recovery program dealing with the treatment of alcoholism.

--If Valenzuela fails to participate in random, biological fluid and/or drug screening testing within the time frame specified by the board or has any confirmed finding of the presence of alcohol, narcotics, hypnotics, dangerous drugs, or other controlled substances in his body, the probationary license issued as a result of the stipulated agreement will be immediately suspended.