The San Bernardino County Superior Court issued the $50,000 bench warrant March 26 after Valenzuela failed to appear for a pre-trial hearing. According to police reports, the 45-year-old Valenzuela was arrested Dec. 20, 2007 following a collision in the drive-through lane of a fast-food restaurant in Upland, Calif.
A few days following the arrest, Valenzuela’s provisional license to ride in California was suspended. California Horse Racing Board officials said the suspension was based primarily on information provided by police.
Such freaking talent when he was in the saddle ....
Valenzuela, who has had his career interrupted multiple times by suspensions and injuries, isn’t credited with a single mount in 2008, and had just 106 starts with 12 winners in all of 2007, according to statistics compiled by The Jockey Club Information Systems. In his career, Valenzuela has 3,969 wins from 25,674 lifetime starts, with $150,677,127 in earnings. Since November 1978, he has been unable to ride because of suspension or license denials for a total of 86 months, or more than seven years.
Among his victories are triumphs in the 1989 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) on Sunday Silence, as well rides on seven Breeders’ Cup winners.
.... has relocated to Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La., and intends to begin riding there on May 31.
Valenzuela said on Wednesday that he has been working horses at Louisiana Downs since mid-May. He was licensed in Louisiana last fall when he rode stakes at Delta Downs in Vinton, La. The license remains valid, according to Louisiana state steward Roy Wood, who was the executive director of the California Horse Racing Board from 1994 to 2004.
Valenzuela, 45, last rode on Dec. 26, the opening day of the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. The winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby aboard Sunday Silence and seven Breeders’ Cup races, Valenzuela pleaded guilty earlier this month to a charge of driving under the influence in Upland, Calif., last December. Valenzuela was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,595.
Forgive my ignorance but I'm going to ask a rather stupid question. (no axe to grind; merely curious)
Does the industry have substance abuse/mental health programs the jockeys can take advantage of? I realize racing is regulated at the state level - so that may factor into the answers. I just seem to recall that there was some sort of 'help' available but I could be wrong.
It's quite a shame - I remember watching him and Sunday Silence back in... 88? 89?
Thanks! I was not aware of the names of the organizations. Glad to know there is some help available.
It's not my place to say whether or not this man should be permitted to continue in his profession; but if folks really want him to overcome this problem, turning him out on the street isn't going to do it. In fact, that will most likely be the final nail in the coffin. Hopefully not in a literal sense.
I hope he can get the help he needs and live a full life.
Worth pointing out the good even with the bad. PVal - at almost 46 yrs old - has been back in the groove with his riding at the end of last month. Yes I know a bit old but hey I was away from the racing for awhile
Jockey Pat Valenzuela, who is based at Louisiana Downs, is riding at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M., all weekend. Valenzuela has mounts in several stakes at the track, which is wrapping up its mixed meet. This is the second straight weekend Valenzuela has ridden at SunRay. He said last weekend that he went there at the invitation of some owners. While at the track, he had a five-win day June 22.
Patrick Valenzuela crept closer to the 4,000-win level when he booted home five winners on Sunday's card at SunRay Park in Farmington, N.M. He also had two seconds and a fourth from his eight mounts.
"Not a bad day at all," Valenzuela said Sunday evening as he was leaving for Durango, Colo., to visit one of his daughters. "Five wins, two seconds, and a fourth, wow!"
Valenzuela was under the radar on Saturday, finishing third with his lone mount in his first trip to SunRay Park. But he was a crowd favorite on Sunday when he went 3 for 3 early.
Valenzuela flashed his Quarter Horse form in the second race by taking Mr Special Eyes ($15.40) wire to wire. Said I Wouldn't ($8.80) then drew off to win the third race by six lengths. The jockey then won with Retsina Spring ($5.40) in the fourth.
Valenzuela was back in the winner's circle when favored Secret Ridge ($4) was a handy winner in race 6. Victorious Vee ($5.60) then drew off in the seventh race to be the 3,978th career winner for Valenzuela, a Colorado native.
After a brief family vacation, Valenzuela will head back to Bossier City, La., where he is riding at Louisiana Downs.
"I don't know after that," he said. "Maybe the Fair Grounds, maybe California."
Valenzuela had his license revoked in California last year following an arrest for DUI.
Another - "the man had/has talent but has squandered so much" article on PVal too
Valenzuela, an easy inclusion in the Top Ten riders I’ve ever seen, is approaching a career milestone of 4,000 victories. It’s probably 2,000 less than he should have had already if not for his personal demons, and that’s too bad.
Ironic I was going to post earlier today this article on Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby in Louisiana which has not only several very well known runners from this spring's Kentucky Derby chase but also Patrick Valenzuela with a mount. While not likely a morning line favorite, Mambo Meister will get a lot of wagering support because of PVal.
"I just hope the people of California know how bad I want to ride, not only in California but I want to participate on the top level of racing all across the country," Valenzuela, 45, said. "I've gotten calls to go to Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Derby. I've gotten opportunities to go to Delaware. I've gotten opportunities to go everywhere else, but I cannot do so because I have a suspended California license. I just want to be able to be in good standing in California, so I can ride all over the country, participate in all the big races."
Valenzuela may or may not move closer to that goal Thursday. A hearing officer in his California case has recommended that his license not be reinstated, according to a document provided by the CHRB on Tuesday. However, the decision lies with the board, which can accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, according to CHRB spokesman Mike Marten.
He's just 3 wins away from hitting the 4,000 win mark.
Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission, "He has done remarkably well. He has not violated any of the stringent rules that Louisiana has."
Valenzuela's comeback has been a slow and steady one. He has had to work to reduce his weight and work to build relationships with owners and trainers on a circuit that is brand new to him. Over the past month, Valenzuela has made real inroads in both areas.
Valenzuela ranks 10th in the standings at Louisiana Downs, where he has won 25 of 177 starts.
Oh Patrick. He's not a bad guy. Just a week one when it comes to his Nemesis, drugs. He is pretty much a write off in CA. I think the entire state is done with him. A guy with an un limitless amount of talent and so handicapped by his "demons."
I first became aware of this during the Sunday Silence/Easy Goer year. So long ago, and it still is always apart of whatever headline has his name in it.
I dunno, part of me recognizes the talent and pressure but...
If he really wanted to change, he would have shown up in court. That no show says more then a gateful of winners to me. He'll never ride in Cal until that gets straightened out-something that will be tough with a bench warrant and failure to show in court on top of the gazillion chances he has blown. Can't say nobody tried to help him or he didn't get the rides despite his reputation either, his talent got him lots of quality rides from good trainers. But everybody has a limit.
Having had some substance abuse close to me, they have to want to change or there is no point. PV wants to ride, wants to win, wants to make money. Does not want to face up to the problem and does not really want to change...if he did he can afford the help or seek those groups that deal with it. So far it's stick the head in the sand and ignore details like that court date.
I'm done with him...but he can still ride and drive in La. as can just about anybody. In just about any condition.
When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.
Despite whether he's better now or had demons blah blah blah...
What kind of message does it send when Horse Racing allows someone with Pat Valenzuela's past to partipate arrest after arrest? The guy was given about a half dozen too many lifelines by California and now Louisiana just grants him a license?
The guy was given about a half dozen too many lifelines by California and now Louisiana just grants him a license?
I can't say the word "just" has any application as it's not like he's flying into town for this weekend. He's been riding there since at least Dec 2007. Regarding Louisiana - which from a legal stand point is not like any other State in the US - he was in good standing.
"He was a licensee in good standing in Louisiana prior to the revocation of his conditional license in California, and in Louisiana there's case precedent that a track cannot exclude a licensee in good standing," said Charles Gardiner, executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission.
I would dare say there are enough bigger issues which should be tackled before fixating on one guy. He'll get mounts reflective of his skills today - not what he did in the Breeders' Cup in the 1980's or what he did in a drive through fastfood joint at 2 am. He'll lose mounts reflective of any improper riding. A bit of the free market at play there.
Jocks as collective profession have since the begining of time have had members "of the fraternity" involved in womanizing, alcoholism, race fixing, drug addiction, spousal abuse, deadbeat dads, immigration violations, speeding infractions, tax cheating, and the excessive use of profanity. Not all but some. The Shoe didn't endup in a wheelchair for life because his horse went down on the backstretch.
If a track like LA Downs is more worried about what PVal might do in the month of Sep 2008, when no evidence has been forthcoming of problems, instead of using that same effort to drum out bad ferriers injuring their bread-and-butter the equine athletes themselves or trainers involved in doping of horse hijinx (just to mention a few) then it would be a sad state of affairs.
Dick, good points. I think some of the "kindness" extended or the turning a blind eye to his "activities" is partly because they can't take his right to earn a living at the only thing he is qualified to do. I've seen it so many time. People who have killed their spouses, vehicular manslaughter, drugs, etc. Racetracks will license people of that type over and over without hesitation.
Which to me is sort of a parallel to the drug positives and maybe a reason for the leniency.
It's not right. I is dangerous. People can change and clean up. Patrick claims to be a God fearing guy. But it's not God controlling his life, it's cocaine. A drug that leaves him paranoid and hiding in the fireplace. Sounds like fun. More reason to say no to drugs. Patrick is the poster boy.
Dick, good points. I think some of the "kindness" extended or the turning a blind eye to his "activities" is partly because they can't take his right to earn a living at the only thing he is qualified to do.
So a truck driver in his 30's with very limited cognitive ability has six DUI's - should he be allowed to drive a truck because that's the only thing he's qualified to do?