Patrick Valenzuela has been issued a license by the state of New Mexico and is scheduled for three rides at Ruidoso on Sunday, including the mount on Heat Stroke for track owner R.D. Hubbard in the $191,077 Rio Grande Senorita Futurity.
Only a heartless cynic would have anything but compassion for the long struggle Valenzuela has had with drugs and alcohol. At the same time, he is a fascinating character, with Hall of Fame stats and a "Law & Order" rap sheet that will confound racing historians for years to come.
More recently, the physical toll of riding and reducing for so many years has plagued Valenzuela, 53, to the point of retirement. But he feels good again, he says, and he is ready to rock. So, let the memories roll.
April 1980: At 17, wins the Santa Anita Derby in a 25-1 upset aboard Codex for Mr. and Mrs. James Binger and trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
March 1984: Wins the 47th running of the Santa Anita Handicap before a crowd of 74,687, defeating the favored John Henry and 1982 Derby winner Gato Del Sol.
November 1984: Disqualified for interference aboard Fran's Valentine after they finish first in the first Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.
May 1985: Rides Fran's Valentine to victory in the 111th running of the Kentucky Oaks.
November 1987: Valenzuela and the filly Very Subtle dominate the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Hollywood Park.
May 1988: Denied a jockey's license by the Albuquerque board of stewards after testing positive for cocaine. The ruling is overturned on a technicality by the New Mexico Racing Commission, and Valenzuela is granted a license subject to random testing.
April and May 1989: Wins the Santa Anita Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness aboard Sunday Silence for trainer Charlie Whittingham.
October 1989: Suspended 60 days after testing positive for cocaine and loses the mount on Sunday Silence in the $3 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Sunday Silence wins under Chris McCarron to earn Horse of the Year.
December 1990: Suspended six months for failing to abide by the terms of the probationary license he received after returning from his 60-day suspension in 1989.
August 1991: Wins the inaugural edition of the $1 million Pacific Classic aboard Best Pal for track chairman John C. Mabee.
October 1991: Valenzuela and the French-trained colt Arazi put on a spectacular show to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill.
October 1992: Wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Eliza and the Breeders' Cup Turf with Fraise at Gulfstream Park for Allen and Madeleine Paulson.
New Year's Eve 1992: Rescues a 9-year-old boy from a burning motor home parked on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena in anticipation of the Rose Parade the following day.
December 1993: Calls in sick the morning of the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup and begs off the mount on Fraise, who wins the race under McCarron.
October 1994: Suspended indefinitely for failing to meet with Santa Anita Park stewards to explain the circumstances behind a series of unexcused absences.
August 1995: Suspended for the balance of the Del Mar meet for failure to appear at a stewards hearing.
February 2000: Tests positive for amphetamines and is suspended for the balance of the year.
January to December 2003: Wins all five major California titles and is a finalist for an Eclipse.
April 2004: Suspended indefinitely by the CHRB for failing to appear for a drug test in violation of his license agreement.
August 2004: Suspended for the balance of the year for failing to comply with random testing demands - specifically, that he shaved his body allegedly to avoid hair follicle testing.
May 2005: Suffers an injured knee and a concussion in a paddock accident at Hollywood.
November 2007: After an absence from riding for nearly a year, returns to competition at Zia Park in New Mexico.
December 2007: Arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in the town of Upland, not far from Santa Anita Park.
September 2008: The CHRB adopts the recommendation of an administrative law judge that Valenzuela's conditional license should be revoked and that he "is permanently ineligible to reapply for, or to hold, a license issued by the California Horse Racing Board."
October 2008: Rides winner No. 4,000 at Louisiana Downs.
July 2010: The CHRB reverses its previous stand and grants Valenzuela a conditional license.
August 2011: Under a picture-perfect hand ride, Acclamation and Valenzuela hold off Joel Rosario and Twirling Candy to win the $1 million Pacific Classic.
December 2011: Announces his retirement at 49.
April 2012: Announces his return to riding.
February 2014: Suspended indefinitely for violation of the terms of his conditional license.
July 2016: Denied a license to ride in California, where he has won most of his 4,366 races. The hearing officer appointed by the state's attorney general is encouraged that Valenzuela has had no substance-abuse violations for the past six months, but his record did show what the officer described as "15 major rule violations and/or convictions" since 2000.
August 2016: Granted a jockey's license by the New Mexico Racing Commission.