07/23/2003 12:00AM

Gill horse tests positive


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Tactical Side, a horse owned by Michael Gill and trained by John Robb, tested positive for a banned substance after finishing fourth in a claiming race at Belmont Park on June 28, according to New York racing officials.

The horse, a 6-year-old who was graded stakes placed last year, had been claimed by trainer Greg Martin, but has been returned to Robb as a result of the positive test, according to New York stewards.

Tactical Side tested positive for butorphanol, described by one steward as "an extremely potent painkiller." New York stewards are in the preliminary stages of their investigation and have not yet set a hearing date.

"We will make arrangements for a hearing at Saratoga in the near future," said David Hicks, the New York Racing Association steward.

Gill, the leading owner in the country this year in terms of wins (232) and money won ($5.12 million), has been the center of much controversy this year. Several jurisdictions, most notably New York and Delaware, have prohibited Gill's trainers from stabling on their grounds.