Valenzuela approved to ride in California

Published Jul. 23, 2010 2:23 a.m. ET

The California Horse Racing Board has voted to allow Patrick Valenzuela to resume riding in the state under strict conditions that require the jockey with a history of substance abuse to submit to hair follicle testing.

The board voted in closed session Thursday on the agreement that is unprecedented because of its ongoing nature and severe stipulations.

Valenzuela, 47, has been riding in New Mexico and Louisiana the last two years after he previously failed to regain his license in California during a career marred by substance abuse and suspensions.

The hair follicle testing will be conducted under the auspices of the racing board and the results will be known before he is licensed. The agreement will be in force as long as Valenzuela is licensed to ride in California.

CHRB chairman Keith Brackpool says California racing officials were told by the state steward in Louisiana that Valenzuela has passed all drug and alcohol tests over the last two years. Steward Roy Wood told the board that the jockey has matured in the last few years and been a good citizen.

Brackpool says the board believes that the strict licensing conditions for Valenzuela will protect the public, other riders, horses and the jockey himself.

The conditions of the agreement require that Valenzuela must completely abstain from the possession, injection or consumption of all mood-altering drugs, including alcohol, and be subject to random testing. The board has the right to charge Valenzuela for the cost of such testing.


Before he's allowed to apply for a license, Valenzuela must attend thrice-weekly meetings of an alcohol recovery program. He must obey all laws and must provide a full account of any violations to the racing board in writing within 72 hours of an occurrence.

If Valenzuela fails to participate in the random testing or has any confirmed findings of alcohol or drugs in his body, his license will be immediately suspended.

Valenzuela's conditional riding license in California was revoked in 2008 after a drunken driving arrest, and the board said then he wouldn't be able to reapply.

He rode Sunday Silence to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in 1989.