02/25/2005 1:00AM

Trainer starts yearlong ban


Ramon Gonzalez, one of the leading trainers at Sunland Park, began a yearlong suspension Friday after several of his runners tested positive for the banned substance naproxin. According to track stewards, Gonzalez had six positives, each of which can bring a maximum 60-day suspension. Gonzalez was given the maximum on each, bringing the suspension to 360 days. Naproxin is an anti-inflammatory/pain reliever, found in such over-the-counter drugs as Aleve, and as a Class 4 drug in New Mexico it is a banned substance in racing. Gonzalez was also fined $1,000 and forced to forfeit purse money won for each violation.

Gonzalez was tied for the lead in the Sunland trainer standings with Steve Asmussen, with 41 victories through Feb. 22. He was the third-leading trainer at Sunland last year, behind Asmussen and Henry Dominguez, with 36 victories.

Gonzalez is best known as trainer of undefeated Cajun Pepper, one of the favorites in Sunday's at Sunland. His brother, Jose A. Gonzalez, has taken over the training duties for the stable.