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Sears Barred From ‘Pace’ Elim Drive

Published: July 4, 2018 3:55 pm ET

Last Comment: July 10, 2018 9:27 pm ET | 7 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

The Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association of New Jersey has commented on a developing situation in the Garden State, which has seen Hall of Fame pilot Brian Sears barred from driving in this coming weekend’s Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace eliminations at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace were drawn on Tuesday. Trainer Jimmy Takter had listed Sears to steer Bettors Delight colt Thinkbig Dreambig, a $180,000 yearling purchase that has drawn into the first of the ‘Pace’ elims. When the official post position draw results were revealed Tuesday, each of the horses featured a listed driver, as per usual, except Thinkbig Dreambig.

“It was brought to our attention last night that Brian Sears was not permitted to be listed on the Jimmy Takter-trained Meadowlands Pace elimination entrant Thinkbig Dreambig, scheduled for the sixth race this Saturday night at the Meadowlands,” SBOANJ President Mark Ford said via release on Wednesday.

“After speaking with both parties, it is apparent that this is a personal issue. We strongly disagree with the Meadowlands’ decision and the SBOANJ will continue to work toward a resolution.”

Trot Insider spoke with Sears Wednesday morning, at which point the decorated reinsman respectfully declined the opportunity to briefly comment on the situation. Trot Insider has also reached out to the Meadowlands Racetrack, but has yet to receive the track’s official position on the matter.

This is not the first time that the Meadowlands Racetrack has made the decision to bar Sears from driving at the ‘Big M.’

In the summer of 2014, Meadowlands Racetrack operator Jeff Gural announced that Sears was the target of severe driving restrictions at the Meadowlands and his other two tracks, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs. The situation stemmed from a personal matter between the two individuals, which was ultimately resolved days later (for background information, click here, here and here). The clearing of the air had paved the way for Sears to again have full driving rights at all three of Gural’s tracks.

Sears, who is one of the most respected and decorated drivers in the industry, has steered horses to more than $186 million in purse earnings and is closing in on his 10,000th career driving win.

In 2016, Sears was elected to the sport’s highest honour, the Hall of Fame, in balloting conducted by the United States Harness Writers Association.

July 10, 2018 - 9:27 pmFor what it's worth... coming

For what it's worth... coming from a catch driver that's raced both in Canada and the USA... NO One, including Mr. Gural, should have the capacity to dictate to any driver in good standing, where he or she may race... or in this case, may not race at all.
Catch drivers are independent business men and women. As such, we have the right to choose what trainers we drive for, and what tracks we race at, to satisfy those commitments and earn our living.
If Mr Gural, regardless of his money and stature, wants a catch driver to be exclusive at his Meadowlands site, then I respectfully suggest that he should also step out and put that driver (in this case Sears) on full company payroll with all the bells and whistles, over and above what Mr. Sears earns in the bike at the Meadowlands.

July 10, 2018 - 6:29 pmThis is exactly what is wrong

Rob Dabiere SAID...

This is exactly what is wrong with our business - tracks competing against one another. In a time when they need each other to survive, tracks, breeders, trainers & owners should be working together. A sad state of affairs. The bigger, better, stronger company will win! Now that MGM is in the mix people are like sheep and follow the money. Very sad

July 10, 2018 - 5:10 pmI've never heard of such

Mike Mobley SAID...

I've never heard of such nonsense as barring someone from driving at a track since he doesn't regularly drive horses there. Imagine if Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Belmont all attempted to bar Mike Smith from riding Justify in the Triple Crown since he doesn't regularly ride at any of those tracks - heads would have rolled!

July 10, 2018 - 5:57 amI beg to to differ with Mr

murray brown SAID...

I beg to to differ with Mr Patrick.
His statement is true at the outset.
In all the instances when this type of situation has been litigated, the racetrack has to and has come up with a reasonable reason/reasons why such person has been barred. The two main, perhaps only reasons, why the track' have been upheld are:
(1) The horseman in question has been shown to be bad for his business.
(2) The horseman in question has a bad record including, but not limited to major offenses and penalties.
In neither case has this been the situation with Brian Sears.
The main reason why this is being allowed to stand is because Sears has chosen to walk away from it.
There is no doubt in my mind if he and/or Jimmy Takter or the owners of the horse chose to challenge it, he/they would prevail.

July 5, 2018 - 7:00 amPrivate property laws require

Don Patrick SAID...

Private property laws require no reason to exclude someone.

July 4, 2018 - 8:26 pmWhat people fail to

Angus Gillis SAID...

What people fail to comprehend is that Mr. Gural oversees the operation at the Meadowlands. It’s his money invested, and no matter how much the mega bucks owners or trainers want to control him, they would be in litigation if someone tried to control their own business or stable.

July 4, 2018 - 6:43 pmIF there is not a legal

IF there is not a legal reason, and none has been given, then being one of the top drivers in the sport he should be able to drive. This only gives the sport a black eye.

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