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OAK TREE : Valenzuela in Limbo After No-Show


Pat Valenzuela, who hasn't ridden since last Thursday, was a no-show for a meeting with the Oak Tree stewards Wednesday morning, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse, won't be able to ride again until he meets with Oak Tree stewards Tom Ward, Pete Pedersen and Ingrid Fermin.

"We're not going to look for him," said Ward, who said the rider also hadn't called with an excuse. "He knows where we are."

Scheduled to ride a couple of horses at Belmont Park last Saturday on the Breeders' Cup Preview card, Valenzuela, who will turn 32 Monday, called the stewards from a hotel in nearby Garden City, N.Y., to say that he couldn't ride because of food poisoning. He had not ridden the day before because of a reported dental problem.


The lone ticket that won the National Best Seven was purchased by an unidentified bettor at Thistledown in Cleveland.

For the first time since the wager began on May 30, there was only one winning ticket and it was worth $453,937.95, thanks primarily to the jackpot pool that had grown to more than $318,000. Seven percent of the Best Seven pool each week is put into the jackpot pool and the jackpot is paid only when there is one correct ticket.

If One Mean Man, who finished second in the Sport Of Kings Futurity at Louisiana Downs, had beaten Mr. Vicious, there would have been no tickets with seven winners Saturday.


Leonard Lavin, the man behind Glen Hill Farm, might have a contender for the Strub series and the La Canada series this winter at Santa Anita.

Top Rung, a 3-year-old filly, and Team Leader, a 3-year-old gelding, were both impressive in victory during the opening week of the Oak Tree meeting and look to have promising futures. Both are trained by Willard Proctor.

Second in her first two starts, Top Rung, a daughter of Seattle Slew out of the Glen Hill Farm-owned mare Feature Price, broke her maiden Sept. 10 at Del Mar, then beat two other promising 3-year-old fillies, Mock Orange and Locate, by six and 9 1/2 lengths, respectively, in a one-mile allowance race last Friday.

Ridden for the first time by Eddie Delahoussaye, Top Rung covered the distance in 1:35 1/5 in her first try around two turns.

Two days later, Team Leader turned in a courageous performance when he earned the second victory of his career.

With Gary Stevens aboard, the son of Private Account was blocked most of the stretch, then was forced to steady sharply to apparently lose all chance, but gathered himself along a narrow opening on the rail and got up to beat Myceenote by a head in 1:43 1/5 for the 1 1/16 miles.

"Mr. Proctor said early this year that this is going to be a Strub horse and he's not wrong too often," Stevens said. "I think he proved how much courage he does have and how much ability. I mean, to get stopped 50 yards like he did and then burrow his way through a tight hole, get bumped again and still get up and get the job done, well, he's a very nice colt."

Horse Racing Notes

Cardmania, the 1993 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, is among those expected to be entered this morning for Saturday's $100,000 Ancient Title at six furlongs. Injured in February while preparing for the San Antonio, the 8-year-old gelding is expected to meet Ojai, King's Blade, Sir Hutch, Uncaged Fury, Concept Win and Saratoga Gambler. . . . The other stake on the card is the $200,000 Goodwood, which is expected to lure Dramatic Gold, Stuka, Del Mar Dennis, Lykatill Hil, Bertrando and, possibly, Fastness. . . . Gary Stevens won three consecutive races Wednesday, scoring with River Flyer, Soltero and Canfield's Girl.

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