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HOLLYWOOD PARK : Court Ruling Allows Valenzuela to Ride Dinard in Malibu Stakes


Pat Valenzuela didn't ride the winner of the closing-day stake at Hollywood Park on Tuesday, but he still won the season's riding title, and the most important victory of all came via a phone call to the jockeys' room minutes after the eighth race.

Valenzuela's lawyer, Scott Zimmermann, told the jockey that they had obtained a stay in Los Angeles Superior Court that will enable the rider to be aboard Dinard and several other horses Thursday when Santa Anita opens its season.

For a riding infraction last Saturday, the Hollywood Park stewards handed Valenzuela a five-day suspension that was supposed to begin Thursday. Now, based on the court ruling, Valenzuela will be able to ride until the California Horse Racing Board holds a hearing regarding his appeal of the suspension.

Although Dinard hasn't run in nearly nine months, since he won the Santa Anita Derby last April, he will be one of the contenders against Olympio in Thursday's $100,000 Malibu Stakes.

On Tuesday, as the Hollywood meeting ended with a turnout of 13,239, Valenzuela finished seventh aboard Kikala, the 7-2 favorite in the $115,400 Dahlia Handicap. Valenzuela won the fourth race, however, and that victory enabled him to edge Kent Desormeaux, 35-34, for the riding title at the 32-day meet.

Re Toss, a 4-year-old filly ridden by Corey Nakatani, won the 1 1/16-mile grass stake by 2 1/4 lengths over Elegance, with Gaelic Board and Desormeaux finishing third, another nose back.

The victory, in 1:40 3/5, was worth $70,400 to Re Toss' owners, Arthur and Larry Risdon of Arcadia, who hadn't won a stake with the Argentine filly since she began her United States career in May. Re Toss, paying $12 to win, now has four victories in eight starts under trainer Henry Moreno.

"We figured she was the third-best filly in South America when we bought her," Moreno said. "I think she's just coming into her own. We'll see what comes up for her at Santa Anita."

Nakatani, 21, will finish ahead of Valenzuela on the national money list, which is the main indicator of what kind of a year a jockey has had. Nakatani is in eighth place with more than $8.7 million in purses, and Valenzuela, with more than $8 million, is in 10th place. Other locally based jockeys among the leaders are Chris McCarron (second), Gary Stevens (third), Eddie Delahoussaye (fifth) and Laffit Pincay (ninth). McCarron, who trails the Midwest-based Pat Day by $14,400 for the title, didn't ride the last two days at Hollywood Park and has five days at Santa Anita to overtake Day, who is finished riding for the year and has a purse total of $14.4 million.

"You set goals for yourself, but I didn't think I'd be doing this well going into the year," Nakatani said. "I was the leading (apprentice) around here (in 1989), and I felt after winning almost 200 races against these guys, I had learned a lot from these guys."

Tony Matos, an agent who has handled the books of jockeys Angel Cordero, Darrel McHargue and Pincay, has been Nakatani's agent almost from the beginning. "I bugged Tony for three months before he took my book," Nakatani said.

Another Nakatani supporter has been Moreno. "Henry's stayed with me through the good times and the bad times," Nakatani said. "He let me work horses for him when I was working around (trainer) Johnny Longden's barn."

R.D. Hubbard, president of Hollywood Park, said that he couldn't speak for Santa Anita regarding a possible walkout by jockeys over accident insurance next Wednesday. "But I'm confident that the jockeys' deal will be settled in Southern California before the first of the year," said Hubbard, who is on the national Jockeys' Guild's advisory committee.

Earlier this week, Jim Smith, general manager of the group that operates quarter horse racing at Los Alamitos, said that he had signed an insurance agreement with the Jockeys' Guild that would assure coverage for Los Alamitos riders after the existing contract expires next Tuesday.

"We're going to need until the end of the week to do something," said Cliff Goodrich, president of Santa Anita. "We're waiting for the Thoroughbred Racing Assn. (of which Santa Anita is a member) to give us a price quote from an insurance company they're talking to. The dialogue has been positive, and it's time to resolve our differences."

Horse Racing Notes

Counting off-track betting in California and out of state, Hollywood Park averaged 26,104 in attendance and $6.4 million in handle for the season. Those averages are respectively 24% and 18% higher than a year ago, when cross-town betting at Santa Anita and Los Alamitos wasn't available. On-track this season, Hollywood's averages were 10,681 (down 25%) and $2.5 million (down 32%). "Betting at those places impacted more on-track than I anticipated," Hollywood President R.D. Hubbard said. "I think 10 to 15% of the drop is due to the recession."

Darrell Vienna and Ron McAnally tied for the Hollywood Park training title, with 12 winners apiece. . . . None of Pat Valenzuela's winners were in a stake. The leaders in that department were Eddie Delahoussaye and Chris McCarron, with five each. Kent Desormeaux rode his 2,000th winner Sunday. . . . First post Thursday at Santa Anita is noon. It will be 12:30 after that until Feb. 19, when it switches to 1 p.m.

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