Whatever happens, it surprised no one to learn that Valenzuela appeared to have hit bottom again. In October 1989 he was suspended for 60 days after testing positive for cocaine. By the time he quit riding, he had won nearly 3,000 races—including six Breeders' Cup events—and some $95 million in purses, but his career had been periodically interrupted by no-shows and by time spent in drug rehab. Ten years ago he had in his delicate hands a career that could have earned him more than $1 million a year. Today he is out on $40,000 bail raised by his family.
Last week trainer John Sullivan spoke for everyone in the racing world when he said, "What a tragic waste of a life."