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Valenzuela Receives Another Suspension

October 14, 1994|BILL CHRISTINE

Pat Valenzuela's checkered career took another abrupt turn Thursday when the stewards at Santa Anita suspended him indefinitely for failure to meet with them after several riding absences.

Valenzuela, one of the country's top jockeys, did not ride at Santa Anita last Friday, Sunday and Monday and also canceled mounts last Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., after telling stewards he was suffering from food poisoning. The three Santa Anita stewards announced his suspension the day after Valenzuela failed to appear at a Wednesday hearing.

"Pat hasn't followed the proper procedures in getting excused from his mounts," said Ingrid Fermin, a Santa Anita steward. "None of us have actually talked to him personally since last Friday. He needs to schedule a hearing with us before we can consider reinstating him."

Valenzuela, who will be 32 on Monday, has a history of drug abuse and has been in rehabilitation programs at least three times. In 1989, he tested positive for cocaine and was serving a 60-day suspension while his Kentucky Derby winner, Sunday Silence, won the $3-million Breeders' Cup Classic under substitute jockey Chris McCarron. A couple of years later, Valenzuela was suspended for six months for refusing to take a mandatory drug test. Valenzuela also tested positive for drugs in New Mexico, but the result was thrown out on a technicality.

"The suspension is moot, because Pat isn't capable of riding up to his own standards," said Roger Licht, Valenzuela's business manager. "He needs at least 30 days to get some general emotional help before he can think about riding again. He accepts the stewards' ruling as being correct."

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