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Brennan Eyes 'Futurity' Repeat

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Published: September 28, 2011 7:20 pm ET

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George Brennan on Sunday will try to become the first driver since Ron Pierce eight seasons ago to win the Kentucky Futurity in back-to-back years and join a small group of Hall of Famers to accomplish the feat over the last 60 years in the process.

Brennan will drive Hambletonian champ Broad Bahn in the 119th Kentucky Futurity, which is contested in heats at the Red Mile in Lexington and is the third jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown. The entry box for the $700,000 Futurity closes at 10 a.m. Thursday and the post position draw will be conducted Thursday night at the track.

Leader Of The Gang won the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown, the Yonkers Trot, and Broad Bahn captured the second jewel, the Hambletonian.

Last year, Brennan won the Futurity with Wishing Stone, who defeated Lucky Chucky by one and three-quarter lengths in 1:51.2 to win the event in two heats. Wishing Stone won his opening round by one and a half lengths in 1:52.3 over Muscle Massive. He was not the favourite in either heat.

Wishing Stone was the first non-Hambletonian winner of the Futurity since Strong Yankee in 2005. Wishing Stone had finished third in the Hambletonian, behind Muscle Massive and Lucky Chucky, in Brennan’s first drive behind the Dewayne Minor-trained colt.

“That was great,” Brennan said about winning the Kentucky Futurity. “He was awesome that day. I don’t think he was really under the radar because he just finished second in the Breeders Crown. I didn’t know if he would win, but I definitely thought he was a contender.”

Now Brennan returns with another contender in Broad Bahn and is hoping to return the Futurity to a Hambletonian winner. If he wins, Brennan will join Pierce, Wally Hennessey, John Campbell, Bill O’Donnell and Joe O’Brien as the only drivers to win the Futurity in consecutive years since 1950.

Broad Bahn heads to the Futurity off a 10th-place finish in the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk Racetrack on September 17. The colt suffered from an irregular heartbeat in the race, but after a 1:53.2 qualifier at the Red Mile on Tuesday appeared to be back on his game.

“You don’t know whether they’re going to do it again,” said Broad Bahn’s trainer, Noel Daley. “There’s no real rhyme or reason or pattern to it. Hopefully it’s a one-time deal. But obviously it’s a concern.

“He hasn’t had a problem since. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. But he seems bright as a button here [Tuesday]. We’re happy with that.”

Brennan was happy, too.

“It looks like all systems are go and hopefully he gets back on track,” the driver said. “I expect him to bounce right back off of this. Most horses do.”

Broad Bahn has won five of 12 races and $1.04 million this year for owner Leif Alber. He has finished no worse than third in 10 starts.

When Brennan drove Broad Bahn to victory in the Hambletonian it gave the driver a career Trotting Triple Crown. Brennan won the Yonkers Trot with Glidemaster in 2006, helping Glidemaster become the eighth horse to sweep the Triple Crown series. Brennan was subbing for the injured Campbell, who drove Glidemaster in the first two legs.

“Winning each leg of the Triple Crown is one of the highlights of my career,” Brennan said. “I think that’s pretty neat.”

Brennan would like to see Broad Bahn repeat his effort from the Hambletonian.

“That was his best race, no doubt,” Brennan said. “I know Manofmanymissions made a break in deep stretch, but they weren’t beating him that day. Not once I got to the half in :56. At the top of the stretch I gave him his head again and he trotted off. It was just an amazing feeling the last eighth of a mile knowing I had the Hambletonian wrapped up.”

The Kentucky Futurity is contested in heats, with a horse needing to win twice to be declared the event’s winner. Over the last 12 years, the Futurity has twice gone to three heats to decide the champion: 2005 when Strong Yankee beat Hambletonian winner Vivid Photo and Sir Perseverence, and in 2008 when Hambletonian winner Deweycheatumnhowe defeated Celebrity Secret and Crazed.

“I don’t think [heats] will hurt him at all,” Brennan said about Broad Bahn. “He’s a perfect horse. He has shown he can race either way. In his elimination of the [Canadian] Trotting Classic he came first over and fought right to the wire. He also can leave the gate. He’s just a very versatile horse; I can do whatever I want. He’s a very solid trotter.”


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

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