Talented but troubled jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who has been riding in Louisiana since November, likely won't be back in the saddle at the Fair Grounds during the current meet. His former agent said the rider's issues are physical.
Daily Racing Form first reported that Valenzuela, 53, took off his mounts at the New Orleans track last Saturday and Sunday.
Robert Whitlock, who served as Valenzuela's agent for most of the meeting (the rider had recently switched to Doug Bredar), told the Paulick Report Valenzuela has a knee injury. “It's something he's been nursing all along,” Whitlock said. “He's going to take off and spend some time with his brother in Lexington (Ky.). He's having real issues with his knees.”
Whitlock said Valenzuela has had previous knee surgery.
“I went in and talked to the stewards and said I didn't think he could keep his commitment (to ride the rest of the meeting),” Whitlock added. “Pat did speak with them by phone.”
Daily Racing Form reported Valenzuela will not be permitted to ride again until meeting with the board of stewards. He was licensed last year by the Louisiana State Racing Commission after receiving an exercise rider's license in California. The jockey had been off since being suspended in January 2014 by the California Horse Racing Board for failing to fulfill his obligations to ride. It was the latest in a string of suspensions for unexcused absences and no-shows. He has admitted to substance-abuse problems in the past.
“I was with him 24/7 from the time he got here till the time he left,” said Whitlock. “I didn't see any signs of Pat going off the rails.”
Valenzuela ranked 13th in the Fair Grounds jockey standings, with 18 wins, 19 seconds and 34 thirds from 197 mounts. During a career that began in 1978, Valenzuela has won 4,365 races from 28,600 rides and his mounts have earned $165.9 million.
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