In a move that comes as no surprise
to many, Pat Valenzuela will resume his career when Betfair Hollywood Park
begins its 50-day run Thursday and step into the spotlight aboard Eclipse Award
winner Acclamation in Friday night’s Inglewood Handicap.
The 49-year-old Colorado native last
rode November 13th at Hollywood Park. After not honoring his
engagements the next two days, Valenzuela announced his retirement shortly
thereafter, citing gall bladder surgery and weight issues. According to
agent Tom Knust, Valenzuela passed two blood tests at the time, but was fined
$1,000 for taking off his mounts without contacting the stewards.
“He’s been getting on horses for a
couple of weeks now and feels great,” said Knust. Pat hired a personal trainer
and changed his diet, and it’s made a big difference. “He worked Acclamation a
mile in 1:38 and change last week.”
Knust added that the rider met with
the stewards recently and was cleared to ride with the same ‘test anytime’
provision in effect.
Valenzuela has been named on a pair
of first time starters Thursday; Family and Friends for Eddie Truman in the 6th
race, and Jilly Baylee for Steve Knapp in the 8th. In addition to
Acclamation in Friday’s 3rd, he’s scheduled to pilot Devils Afleet for
Robertino Diodoro in the 4th, Silent Sue (Walter Solis) in the 7th,
and It’s Time to Go (Don Warren) in the 9th..
In related news, Tyler Baze will
meet with the Los Alamitos stewards Saturday in an effort to be
reinstated. A conflict of interest prevents the Hollywood Park stewards
from intervening in the process. Baze was suspended last summer at
Del Mar after failing to show up for a scheduled breathalyzer test. He is
currently enrolled in the Winner’s Foundation substance abuse treatment program.