Patrick Angel Valenzuela (born October 17, 1962 in Montrose, Colorado) is an American thoroughbred horse racing jockey. Born into a racing family, his father plus three of his uncles, including Ismael Valenzuela, were jockeys. He rode his first career winner on November 10, 1978, at Sunland Park Racetrack in Sunland Park, New Mexico. In 1980, 17-year-old Pat Valenzuela became the youngest jockey to ever win the Santa Anita Derby. He was voted the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award by his peers in 1982.
Pat Valenzuela has repeatedly said throughout his career that the best horse he has ever ridden was Arazi.
Pat Valenzuela is a seven-time winner of Breeders' Cup races. In 1992, he became the first jockey to twice win two Breeders' Cup races on the same card.
During his career, Valenzuela has had to deal with a drug abuse problem that many observers believe has prevented his natural talents from making him one of the greatest of jockeys in racing. During the 1990s, he was suspended by racing authorities 8 times and in 2000 another suspension kept him out of racing for 22 months. Problems emerged again in January 2004 that resulted in suspension but he came back to win top jockey honors during the 2004-2005 racing season at Santa Anita Park. In 2005, he rode Wild Desert to victory for trainer Robert Frankel in the Queen's Plate, Canada's most important horse race.
Valenzuela's conditional California license, which stipulated many conditions including drug testing, was suspended once in 2006 and twice in 2007 for violations. The CHRB Stewards 'permanently' revoked Valenzuela's CA license in early 2008 after a drunk driving arrest. Stewards said then, that he would not be able to reapply in the state of California. Louisiana still allowed Patrick to ride, so he was able to use some time there and in Canada to get his career back on track.
On July 22, 2010, the CHRB Stewards granted Patrick Valenzuela another conditional thoroughbred license, whose conditions include thrice weekly AA meetings, submission to random and for cause drug tests, and must completely abstain from the possession, injection or consumption of all mood-altering drugs, including alcohol. Tom Knust, Patrick's agent, has insisted that Patrick has been clean since May 2008, which was confirmed by Louisiana stewards as Valenzuela never failed a random drug test there.
Since his return to California racing, he won the G1 $1 Million Pacific Classic at Del Mar aboard Acclamation, twenty years after he won the same race aboard Best Pal. Also won the G1 Shoemaker Mile with Courageous Cat, and three more graded stakes from 10 stakes wins going into the 2011 Breeders' Cup.
On Thursday, November 10, 2011 Patrick Valenzuela was a no-call no-show to ride his mounts at Hollywood Park. His agent could not get a hold of him all day long and stewards removed Valenzuela from his mounts. The next day, Patrick called Knust and told him that he had gone to see his fiancee and was afraid to leave her for her own well being. Other than saying it was a personal issue which takes precedence, he gave no further explanation, except he must travel with his fiancee to Kansas. CA stewards have taken him off all mounts until, and only until, Valenzuela meets with the stewards, provides proof of his whereabouts, and consents to a drug test. The earliest he may begin riding is November 26, but may not be returning until early December
After passing a drug test to prove that his recent absence was not a slip back into his old lifestyle, on December 9, 2011, 49-year-old Champion Thoroughbred Jockey, Patrick Valenzuela, announced his retirement after a 33-year-long career. He cited his recent emergency gal bladder surgery, weight maintenance issues, and knee injuries as reasons for his retirement.
On April 12, 2012, Patrick Valenzuela announced through his agent, Tom Knust, that he will return to the jockey colony at Hollywood Park. He will return April 26, the first day of the Hollywood Park meet. In June 2012, Patrick Valenzuela won the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Betfair Hollywood aboard Acclamation, who is undefeated in 2012.
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