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Valenzuela Must Pass Hair Test

September 07, 2006|Robyn Norwood

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela, recently released from a Pasadena facility that treats patients with mental health and substance abuse problems, met with Del Mar stewards Wednesday and agreed to submit to a hair follicle test as he seeks to return to his mounts in the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita later this month.

"He's ready to go ride," said Tom Knust, Valenzuela's agent. "The big key is the hair follicle. They want to make sure he hasn't been using drugs."

Valenzuela, 43, passed a urine test Wednesday and was given permission to begin exercising horses. However, he still faces issues with the California Horse Racing Board, which allows Valenzuela, who has a history of substance abuse problems, to ride under a provisional license that requires him to submit to hair follicle testing.

Attempts by the CHRB to conduct a hair follicle test after Valenzuela admitted himself to Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena on July 22 were unsuccessful, though he passed two urine tests after citing back problems when he took himself off his mounts on July 19, opening day at Del Mar.

"What we'll be trying to do is evaluate the events of the last several weeks and how that fits the terms of the contract," said Ingrid Fermin, executive director of the CHRB. "We need to see other documentation."

Knust, who earlier said Valenzuela had "depressions and different things that he has to deal with," said the rider had overcome physical and emotional problems during his six-week hospital stay.

"He's good. He got a medical release for his back and another medical release saying he is physically and mentally OK," Knust said.

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