12/08/2003 12:00AM

Bond starts reduced ban

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Trainer James Bond on Monday began serving a 20-day suspension, the result of one of his horses testing positive for a banned substance during the Saratoga meet, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board said.

The Bond-trained Nevermore tested positive for butorphanol, a potent tranquilizer, after finishing second in the sixth race on Aug. 27 at the Spa. The horse was disqualified from second and unplaced in the order of finish.

Bond had been issued a 45-day suspension, but the board reduced it by more than half because Bond waived his right of appeal. Additionally, according to a statement issued by the board, the penalty is "reflective of the reasonable questions raised by the investigation into the incident."

According to Bond, the butorphanol was administered by Dr. Rodney Stewart, an associate of Dr. Michael Galvin, Bond's regular veterinarian. Bond said he was not familiar with the drug and was unaware that it was given to Nevermore.

The board later confirmed that Stewart was fined $3,000 for "conduct which may have been a contributing factor" in the postrace positive. Stacy Clifford, a spokeswoman for the board, said Bond's penalty would have been stiffer had it not been for Stewart's "shared responsibility."

Bond, 46, said this is the first medication positive he has received in his 30-year training career.

"I felt fighting it was going to be a crazy battle," Bond said from Florida. "It's a blemish on my reputation that I don't like, but the board felt it had to do something."

During the suspension, Bond's horses will run for assistant trainer Everado Cambray.