Jockey Pat Valenzuela, who hasn't ridden since Nov. 2 and who was suspended indefinitely Nov. 15, was set down for six months by the Hollywood Park Board of Stewards Saturday.
Valenzuela, 28, was punished for "repeated violations of California Horse Racing Board Rule 1872 (failure to fulfill jockey agreement) and for failure to honor the conditions and terms of probation in the rulings of April 17, 1988, and Oct. 27, 1989."
The suspension was retroactive to Nov. 12, the day he was ordered to appear before the stewards after calling in sick Nov. 3 at Santa Anita--and will be in effect through May 11, 1991. Valenzuela, the leading rider at Hollywood Park's summer meeting and at Del Mar, is also denied access to race tracks until Feb. 11.
Shortly after stewards Pete Pedersen, Tom Ward and David Samuel issued their ruling, Sam Silverstein, one of Valenzuela's two attorneys, filed an appeal with the CHRB.
"I'm horrified," Silverstein said from his office Saturday. "It's the most punitive thing I've ever seen in racing.
"The whole case was prejudged. We had no shot. It was a sham. Due process was not followed in this case. It's a foregone conclusion what the Board's going to say. The appeal's going to be denied."
Silverstein is seeking an affidavit from Dr. Neil Fisher, who talked to Valenzuela Nov. 3, then issued a statement that was released by the stewards at Oak Tree. In the statement, Fisher said Valenzuela refused to submit to a drug test and was going to take three months off to straighten out his life.
According to Silverstein, Valenzuela refused only to take the test at Fisher's office in Covina. "He was ill," Silverstein said. "He wasn't able to go anywhere. He was willing to take the test if somebody came to his house."
The stewards received reports from three doctors--orthopedic specialist Robert Kerlan and internists Jokichi Takamine and Albert Puskas--who examined Valenzuela, but Silverstein said he wasn't allowed to see the reports before Friday's 90-minute hearing.
The attorney, who is the father of jockey agent Rich Silverstein, said Puskas recommended no suspension for Valenzuela. Takamine suggested two weeks and Kerlan called for one year.
Pedersen wasn't surprised by the decision to appeal. "We knew very likely we'd have to support our decision," he said. "The decision was strictly ours. We discussed it Friday and put out our ruling this morning.
"To our understanding, Pat's done a good job with AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings, and he's had an awful lot of counseling. Dr. Kerlan and the Jockeys' Guild and the industry would like a program that everybody can feel comfortable with and monitor."
Valenzuela, who was suspended for 60 days late last year after testing positive for cocaine, was also placed on probation Saturday by the stewards until Dec. 31, 1992. In April of 1988, Valenzuela was suspended for failure to appear.