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Then in the spring and summer Pat began to shine. He rode 26 winners at Hollywood Park, 21 of them in the last five weeks of the 77-day meeting. At Del Mar he rode 35 winners to finish fourth in the standings behind Pincay, McCarron and McHargue. He also became known as a rider who could "send" a horse but had trouble saving something for the finish, not an uncommon criticism of a young jockey.
These days he gets up each morning before six, drives to the track with Milo and gallops horses. At 10 a.m. he goes to Arcadia Continuance High School, where he takes English, reading and business math. He has a little over a year to go for a diploma.
"I work pretty hard in school," Pat says, "but I'm not a star there or anything like that. Most of the other students kid me a lot and read the papers to see how I'm doing. But it's funny, I admire the students there a lot more than they know. They're going there to improve themselves."
After school Valenzuela returns to the track, where he often rides the full nine-race card. Until he lost his apprenticeship, Valenzuela's services were in such demand that he had ridden more races than any of the big-name jockeys on the grounds: 66 more than Pincay, 23 more than McCarron.
He'll have to keep up that rate to draw even with Milo, who in 31 years has won some 2,600 races and $20 million in purses while punishing himself almost daily to make weight. "I can make 115 now," he says, a smile growing on his leathery face. "It's the lowest I've been in years. I can still ride well and it is what I want to do and want to keep doing."
Milo rides about six races a week, quite a few less than in, say, 1956, when he fashioned three remarkable upsets. He beat Nashua with Mister Gus, Swaps with Porterhouse and Bold Ruler with Nashville. But Milo could find trouble too; once he was beaten over the head with a pool cue in a barroom when he started fighting taunters who called him "wetback."
Milo was one of 22 children—only 12 lived—born to Angel and Jesus Valenzuela in McNary, Texas. The family moved to Mexico when Milo was 3. "There were more than 22 kids around the house," he says, "because my mother would adopt other children and give them things to eat. We didn't have much, but we were happy. My father loved Mexico. When I was a kid, we were living on a farm in Porvenir, and I was riding horses, sheep and donkeys. It was adobe huts, beans and hot in Porvenir. My father was sick from an infection for 32 years; he wouldn't move out of Mexico because he wanted to die there. He would boil up poison ivy to cure the fever. He would drink it down and maybe it helped. The one thing I've always said about him is that he holds the record for having an infection."
By the time Milo was 11 he was competing in match races in tiny towns, down roads and through fields. In 1950 he began riding thoroughbreds in the U.S., and eventually he had some tremendous years. In 1958 he rode Calumet Farm's Tim Tam to victory in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. The horse broke down in the stretch in the Belmont. " Jimmy Jones. Tim Tam's trainer, and I stood out in front of Tim Tam's stall and cried like babies," Milo says. A decade later Valenzuela rode Forward Pass, another Calumet colt, in the Derby. He was beaten by Dancer's Image, but when a positive postrace Butazolidin test of Dancer's Image was disclosed. Forward Pass was declared the winner. Litigation ensued. "I finally did get the trophy and the check for the Derby," Milo says. "It was five years after the race was run,"
The pressure of keeping in shape has taken its toll on Milo, but he has kept riding. In 1976 he had only eight winners, but didn't give up. "I can still make a living riding and exercising horses," he says. This year Valenzuela has had five winners in 86 races. "I'm going to stick with riding for as long as I possibly can," he says. "But the great joy in my life right now is watching Pat every day. He has put the Valenzuela name up in big lights again."