Cancer Survivor Gonzalez Enjoying Every Day

Cancer Survivor Gonzalez Enjoying Every Day

Leading Maryland Trainer Off to Fast Start at Pimlico

BALTIMORE, MD., 04/10/15 --- Claudio Gonzalez, the leading trainer at the recently-concluded Laurel Park meet, has gotten off to a good start at Pimlico with two wins during the first week and 64 percent of his starters finishing in the money.

For Gonzalez, it's the continuation of a dream that started when he left his native Chile in 1995. It's also a story of surviving cancer.

Gonzalez, who ranked second in Maryland last year with 52 victories, landed in the U.S. on Nov. 5 of '98 in hopes of working in the Thoroughbred industry. "In Chile we groom, exercise the horses...we do everything," Gonzalez said. "I didn't really know anyone when I got here, but I knew Juan Serey and his family and then went to work for Benny Perkins Jr."

It was during his time with Perkins that Gonzalez was diagnosed in 2008 with testicular cancer.

"For six months, I couldn't work," Gonzalez recalled. "I was an exercise rider who couldn't work with two kids. I was having chemo, losing my hair. But Benny....he helped me so much. He kept paying me. He kept checking on me. I couldn't tell you how much he helped me."

Recalled Perkins: "Claudio was always a hard worker. He did everything you asked, always asked to do more, he always showed interest in everything around the barn. I think he had worked for us for five years and when he had his problem, we were all more than happy to help him. All our owners kicked in and helped as well."

 After being diagnosed as cancer free, Gonzalez went back to work before taking out his trainer's license in 2012. After winning his first race in November of 2012, Gonzalez's career has taken off. He won the 2014 Laurel Park fall title with 31 victories and shared the 2014 Laurel winter title with three other trainers. He was also fourth leading trainer at the 2013 Monmouth meet.

"Juan and Benny really gave me my opportunity to be successful," Gonzalez said. "Winning has given me confidence. I love to take care of my horses, groom and exercise them...I love to train."


Turf racing, which was to return Thursday to Maryland, has been delayed due to local rain the past three days. But there is a good chance turf racing will return Saturday. The nine-race program includes three starter handicaps all on the turf at a mile and a $25,000 maiden claimer at five furlongs on the turf.