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HE’S BAACKK

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 7/26/2010 2:16:50 PM

Toss in one part Eddie Arcaro, one-eighth Angel Cordero, a twist of the power of Laffit Pincay Jr, the hands of Bill Shoemaker, a spoon of the Jerry Bailey savvy, a dash of Eddie D, the coolness of Chris McCarron and the racing mind of Gary Stevens and this recipe turns into Pat Valenzuela.

Don’t look now but Valenzuela’s career has once again been resurrected. He was approved to resume riding in California for the first time in almost 3 years by the California Horse Racing Board.

He will be under stringent rules to maintain sobriety but has been clean for about 2 years in the Bayou.

We have seen this movie before. The maligned rider has been suspended more often then some people change their socks. He out distanced now deceased and former Dodgers pitcher Steve Howe by the length of the stretch.

He is not getting any younger, but horses still run for him and run big time. Back early in his career, when he would return from a suspension, he would usually be pumped up in the first couple of days and post a number of winners. And that has not changed even though he is at an advanced age.

It was seven years ago when the legend grew.

P Val’s monumental win at the Inglewood fall meeting made him the first rider in 20 years to sweep all 5 Southern California major pilot titles in one season matching McCarron’s 1983 feat.  Rider Rafael Bejarano has since matched that feat.

As only a scriptwriter could have penned, P Val’s pivotal win came aboard Hollywood Story, a precocious sort that became the first maiden winner of the Hollywood Starlet in 23 runnings. Not missing a beat, the stewards got into the act and Story had to survive an inquiry, something Valenzuela is so used to by now.

Currently, through last Thursday, P Val was tied for third in the Louisiana Downs standings with 40 winners.

He has become an excellent judge of pace and is seldom caught at the wrong place, mainly because he puts his horses into the race early, often, and he’ll make his usual move around the turn and give a horse that special chance to win.

Patrick comes from a long history of racing personalities. His dad, A.C, was a rider. So were uncles Milo, Angel, Mario and Santiago. His cousin Fernando struggled on the SoCal circuit and his brother Fabian has raced in California and Arizona.

Valenzuela was the youngest rider at 17 to take the Santa Anita Derby when Codex scored in 1980.

His greatest national moment probably came in 1989 when Sunday Silence took the first 2 legs of the Triple Crown before getting beat by Easy Goer in the Belmont Stakes.

Patrick will be represented by Tom Knust as his agent and know this from a first-hand source, he could not get a better person in his corner.

I worked with Knust on a extraordinary project at a time when I didn’t know which way my career was going to go and although the project never really got off the ground, he did everything in his power to make sure that I was taken care of respect-wise and money-wise.

Here’s hoping P Val and Knust can battle the youngsters on the circuit and still show he is the best gate boy maybe ever to put on the boots.

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