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Suspended Valenzuela Loses Paulson Contract


HALLANDALE, Fla. — Owner Allen Paulson said Saturday that suspended jockey Pat Valenzuela would no longer ride as the contract jockey for his stable.

Undecided, Paulson said, is whether Valenzuela will resume riding Corby and continue riding Eliza, two of the leading candidates for the Kentucky Derby. Valenzuela called in sick, telling the Santa Anita stewards he had a sore back and virus, and Chris McCarron took over for Corby's victory March 13 in the San Felipe Stakes.

Paulson said that he would discuss the Valenzuela matter with his trainers, John Sadler for Corby and Alex Hassinger for Eliza, before decisions are made about riding assignments.

Since January of 1992, Valenzuela has been the contract rider for Paulson, riding horses for other owners only when a Paulson horse isn't in a race.

"We really didn't have a written contract worked out yet for this year," Paulson said. "There was a handshake agreement, but I've told Pat and his agent (Jeff Franklin) that that aspect of our relationship is over. I still like Pat as a jockey. I think he's one of the best riders around, but this is a business and I have to start thinking about riders who show up on a regular basis. As far as riding Corby and Eliza, I would say that Pat's situation is precarious."

Through Saturday, Valenzuela had skipped 20 days of riding since the Santa Anita season began Dec. 26. He began a five-day suspension Saturday, which was assessed by the stewards because of Valenzuela's "failure to follow established procedures for being excused from mounts."

Valenzuela, 30, has a history of drug problems and has been suspended twice. He received a six-month penalty in 1990-91, which forced him to sit out the Santa Anita season. Recent drug tests by the California Horse Racing Board have been negative. Paulson said Saturday that Valenzuela has told him that his recent absences have been because of a sore back.

"This (not riding under contract to Paulson) is a heck of a setback," Franklin said. "We'll no longer have that continuity that came from the way our business has been structured for more than a year."

Paulson declined to say what Valenzuela's annual retainer amounted to. Estimates had run to as much as $1 million.

Franklin said that Valenzuela would resume working horses Monday morning at Santa Anita. "He's now 100% (physically)," Franklin said. "He needed three or four complete days of rest to get that way."

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