Stewards to Consider Valenzuela Licensing Agreement Wednesday

The California Horse Racing Board announced Monday that the review by the Santa Anita Park stewards of Patrick Valenzuela's 2004 record and licensing agreement will take place Wednesday.

The review will not be a formal hearing and will not be open to the public, according to the CHRB, and will be attended by Valenzuela and his attorney, along with CHRB executive director Ingrid Fermin.

"The CHRB made considerable progress over the weekend in redrafting the conditions of an agreement governing the possible 2005 conditional license of Patrick Valenzuela," the announcement said. According to the CHRB, deputy attorney general Derry Knight will review the revisions before Wednesday.

The CHRB cleared the way for jockey Valenzuela to regain his riding license when it voted last Friday to adopt the ruling of an administrative law judge that overruled a board of stewards' suspension of the rider.

Valenzuela, 42, turned in his license application last Wednesday.

"It's premature to assume he (Valenzuela) will automatically be licensed," Fermin said Friday.

In her previous position as a steward, Fermin was one of three officials who recommended last year that Valenzuela "not be considered for future licensing by the California Horse Racing Board in any capacity."

Valenzuela has been suspended numerous times for substance abuse and personal issues. Coming back from a previous suspension, he enjoyed a spectacular year in 2003, sweeping the riding title at each of the five major meetings in Southern California. However, in January 2004, Valenzuela was suspended by the board of stewards for violating the terms of his conditional license by failing to appear at Santa Anita for drug testing after he called in injured.

That suspension was upheld by the board of stewards in March 2004, but his conditional license was restored by an administrative law judge in May, with additional terms and conditions added, including hair follicle drug testing. In July, Valenzuela was asked to submit to a hair follicle test. He had shaven his head and body, and a CHRB enforcement officer determined Valenzuela could not produce a hair sample. He was summarily suspended by the stewards July 2.

In his November decision, administrative law judge H. Stewart Waxman ruled the CHRB had erred, and that hair follicles referred to the hair that starts beneath the skin surface. He said the CHRB had confused hair follicles with hair strands. He ruled Valenzuela thus had hair follicles to test, and that the CHRB failed to administer the test. Waxman wrote that "the Board of Stewards' decision to uphold (Valenzuela's) July 2 summary suspension for maintaining his hair at a length insufficient for hair strand or hair shaft testing is deemed arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion...(Valenzuela) did not fail to comply with the order to submit to a hair follicle test."