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Brennan Comments On Hot Start To '09


Published: January 16, 2009 10:57 am ET

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After winning 14 races over the last four nights, George Brennan will try to lengthen his lead in the Meadowlands driver standings this weekend.

He has opened up to a nine-win lead over Brian Sears in the 2009 standings with 24 wins through January 15. Brennan had his biggest weekend since returning from injury three months ago with a six-pack of wins last Friday and a grand slam on Saturday. The driver suffered a compound wrist fracture in a spill at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on May 31, 2008 that kept sidelined for four months. Despite missing two months of the Meadowlands' January-August meet, Brennan managed to hold onto his runner-up finish to Sears in the standings with 137 wins, marking his best ranking to date.

"I decided to go to Pocono Downs the day I got injured to drive Dontloseyourdayjob because he was a Meadowlands Pace prospect," Brennan said. "I won with him there the week before in 1:51.2, and he had missed the New Jersey Classic. Obviously, it was difficult to see anything good about the time I missed, but it was there and I had to deal with it. I certainly didn't sit around all summer and ask, 'why me?' In fact, I made the best of a bad situation. I had a pretty good time, went to a lot of concerts and family functions. My goal is to be busy all the time. That's what I like best. I have it worked out where I take enough time off. It's not like I'm racing 4,000 times a year; 2,000 to 2,200 drives a year is plenty for me. That way I stay fresh and don't get burned out."

After two surgeries and extensive physical therapy, the 41-year-old reinsman returned to the sulky in October. Brennan went an uncharacteristic 4 for 145 during the 17-date Holiday Harness Meet, but has hit the ground running since January 1. He drove seven winners the first week of 2009 and added 13 more last week. He has already won four races so far this week, with a driving triple on Wednesday.

"It may have appeared that I struggled to come back through the fall, and then somebody flipped a switch, but I really don't think so," Brennan said. "A couple of knowledgeable race watchers told me I was still putting horses in good spots and they just weren't firing. Also at that time, it was a matter of getting some of those horses back in form and fitting the right classes. It seems over the last couple of weeks that's what has happened.

"Certainly, once you start winning you gain more confidence and there's more intensity like in any sport," he said. "A friend of mine is a university quarterback and he told me once he completes that first pass, he starts feeling good and gets into his rhythm. So, you sit third on the rail and you get that seam to get up and win. Things work out when you're on a roll. That wasn't happening for me last fall and I'm not crying. That's just racing. Sometimes it's streaky and you get those breaks.

"I think driving for a lot of different trainers helps my cause," he added. "I can take the best horse because I'm not locked into one outfit. Over the years, I drove for steady clients like Richie Banca and Peter Pan. Both situations have their pros and cons. Right now, I'm happy with the way things are going. I can just drive the best horse and deal with it."

Brennan was crowned the 'Minister of Speed' by the Meadowlands broadcast team, a nickname that quickly stuck with racing fans.

"I really can't explain how I make speed or do other things," he said. "There are certain qualities in drivers, and pretty much every driver at the Meadowlands can do everything that's required. However, obviously some drivers can do certain things better than others. I mean, for instance I can do anything Brian Sears can do, but a lot of things not as well as he can, and vice versa. Also, I believe it's a matter of certain drivers fitting certain horses."

He will have ample opportunity to keep the momentum going Saturday night with 14 drives, including Shark Gesture and Western Shore in the $50,000 second round of the Presidential Series and Up Front Bethann in the $35,000 fillies and mares invitational.

"I know Shark Gesture was injured and off a long time, but Larry and Ray Remmen said he's been sound ever since they brought him back," he said. "He could be a legitimate, top-level horse.

"Western Shore is in the upcoming sale. It'll be a tough first start back for him. He qualified real well in 1:54, under less than ideal conditions.

"Up Front Bethann is real good right now," he finished. "She's a small mare who showed talent as a three-year-old."


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