Brian Sears: the man, the driver, the legend

03:25 PM 23 Jun 2011 NZST
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Brian Sears and Jim Campbell Brain Sears 7000 win award Brian Sears $100 million award      Break The Bank K Francis Azur, right Brian Sears and Tim Tetrick Mister big's winning connections Major In Art and Brian Sears Lis Mara Brian Sears Vodkaontherocks Rocknroll Hanover Brian Sears Brian Sears Brian Sears at the 2005 Breeders Crown Brett Pelling with driver Brian Sears Brian Sears and Trond Smedshammer Brian Sears Meadowlands Pace Drivers Brian Sears and Muscle Hill, harness racing Brian Sears deep in thought Brian Sears
Brian Sears and Jim Campbell - Accept Broadway Schooner's trophy
Brian Sears and Jim Campbell accept Broadway Schooner's trophy from Debbie LIttle and John Manzi
Brain Sears 7000 win award
Brian Sears $100 million award
Break The Bank K - Brian Sears drove the son of Revenue S
-- Todd Gimblett Racehorsephoto.com 905-377-1032
Francis Azur, right - Tim Tetrick, Brian Sears & Kevin McDermott
USHWA photo
Brian Sears and Tim Tetrick - Posed for pictures and signed autographs
Kim Brooks photos
Mister big's winning connections - hold the Ben Franklin glass Cup aloft soon after the win.
Major In Art and Brian Sears - take the Woodrow Wilson
Photo: LISA PHOTO
Lis Mara - Now five, has $1.2 million in earnings
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc.
Brian Sears - Meadowlands Victory Collage
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc.
Vodkaontherocks -
Brian Sears reset the Big M consecutive wins record
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc.
Rocknroll Hanover - 2005 Pepsi North America Cup
New Image Media - Rocknroll Hanover and driver Brian Sears after winning the 'Cup' in 2005.
Brian Sears - 2005 Meadowlands Fall Meet Leading Driver
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc.
Brian Sears - Is the first driver to top $15 million
Eclipsed the previous single-season record of $14,184,863 set by John Campbell in 2001
Brian Sears at the 2005 Breeders Crown
Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo, Inc. - Brian Sears picked up three Breeders Crown driving victories on Saturday (November 26) at the Meadowlands. Sears drove Strong Yankee in the 3-Year-Old Colt and Geldings trot final, Blur in the 3-Year-Old Fillies
Brett Pelling with driver Brian Sears - Photo by Michael Lisa - Lisa Photo Inc.
Brett Pelling watching the replay of this year's Meadowlands Pace with driver Brian Sears.
Brian Sears and Trond Smedshammer - USTA Photo
Brian Sears - victorious in three Breeders Crown Finals at the Meadowlands
Courtesy Of Breeders Crown and Hambletonian Society
Meadowlands Pace Drivers - LISA PHOTO, INC.
Drivers (left to right) Yannick Gingras (Timesareachanging), Daniel Dube (Brandon's Cowboy), George Brennan (Camelot Hall), Cat Manzi (Mantacular), Brian Sears (Georgia Pacific), John Campbell (Metropolitan) and Ron Pierce (Geartogear) were among the 126
Brian Sears and Muscle Hill
Lisa Photo
Brian Sears deep in thought
Brian Sears - His career purses stand at …wait for it - $119,328,629
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What third generation horseman Brian Sears hasn't achieved in harness racing - quite simply isn't worth achieving. He drove his first winner during his high school days and now at the age of 43 he's still racking up daily winners like he eats hot meals.

Both his father Jay and grandfather Gene Sears recorded 1,000 plus-winners in their respective careers, but this Ft Lauderdale Florida native has out-done them both.

As at June 22 the hugely gifted Sears had saluted the judge a whopping 7,437 times and placed on 11,567 occasions from his 39,239 career drives. He recorded win number 7,000 at the Meadowlands behind Muscles Marinara on March 12, last year.

His career purses stand at …wait for it - $119,328,629 – including $10.5 million he banked last season.

Last year he won 307 races but his best season came in 2000 when he won crossed the line first 554 times.

He drove his first pari-mutuel winner aged 16 behind Happy Motoring mare, Alicia Blue Chip. That was in 1984 and since then he hasn’t looked back.

But his win total could have been slightly more had Sears’ father not urged his son to go to College and bypass a career in harness racing.

But after two years studying to be a vet at Auburn University, Sears couldn’t resist the urge to get back in the sulky.

“It’s all I ever wanted to do. I always looked up to my former brother-in-law Joe Pavia Junior. He was kind of like my driving hero when I was young. Now here in 2011 I’m really happy with what I have achieved. I still can’t believe it sometimes. I love what I do for a living. It was always a dream growing up,” Sears told Harnesslink.

“My ambition is to just keep visiting the winner’s circle. I get a great thrill out of making people happy. That’s what keeps me going,” he added.

Based in Secaucus New Jersey, 5 foot 10 inch Sears began his professional career at Vernon Downs and in 1990 won the Dick Mumpton Memorial Award for the most promising driver at the central New York oval.

Sear's career really took off in 1991 when he drove 99 winners and had earnings of $215,124. That season also saw him win the first of three driving titles at Vernon Downs. At the end of 1991 he was named USHWA Rising Star of the year.

In 1994 Brian moved from Vernon to the Meadows with great success, finishing second behind Meadow's champion Dave Palone for nine straight seasons, and placing in the top 20 of the North American driving ranks every year since then.

After nearly a decade of racing at the Pennsylvania venue, Sears began driving full time at the Meadowlands in 2003. A year later he claimed his first title at the Big M.

That move proved to the best of his career as he's become one of that premiere harness racing facility's top reinsmen, with 2005 being his second best stakes season ever winning $15.6 million - compared to $16.8 million in 2008.

In 2009, Brian Sears became the first driver in history to win both the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks on the same day, when he claimed the Hambletonian with Muscle Hill and the Oaks with Broadway Schooner on August 8 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

That was also the year (August 8) Sears set a record for earnings in a single day by a driver with his mounts capturing $1,555,674.50 at the Meadowlands, while winning the Hambletonian, Hambletonian Oaks and Peter Haughton Memorial.

Asked who the best horses that he had sat behind were, Sears replied:

“I think Muscle Hill would be the greatest standardbred I have driven. He was a quality trotter who possessed a higher gear than most. I’ll never forget him.

“But the ride hasn’t stopped. In 2011 I’m getting a great thrill out of driving See You At Peelers. I’ve only driven that filly twice on race-day and already I can firmly say she is the best filly or mare I have sat behind. She is amazing,” Sears said.

See You At Peelers $600,000 Fan Hanover Stakes Final win at Mohawk last Saturday (June 18) provided Sears with his biggest win in 2011 to date, but he was hopeful she would win more big races this season.

He also had high hopes for 3-year-old Cams Card Shark colt, Roll With Joe.

“I’ll be back driving him hopefully in the stakes races this year. He’s trained by Edward Hart in New York and I have high hopes for him as well. He’s a quality stakes horse,” Sears said.

“Hopefully more top-liners will come out of the woodwork once the stakes season heats up,” he added.

Yesterday (June 22) at Harrah's Chester he drove former Kiwi mare Royal Cee Cee N to her sixth consecutive win in a time of 1:49.3 making her the second fastest New Zealand bred mare ever. (The fastest New Zealand bred mare is the former Breeder's Crown runner up Double Dream who paced in 1:49.2.) The Christian Cullen 5-year-old is now unbeaten this season after being exported from New Zealand to Mark Harder’s Freehold stable on December 29 last year.

“It’s been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember to work with standardbreds and sometimes I still find it hard to believe what I have achieved. It’s an honor to drive for others and I always cherish donning my brown and white colors. I never take any drive for granted,” Sears said.

Other things you might like to know about Sears (courtesy of fanguide.ustrotting.com):

Birthday: January 21.

Favorite Food: Seafood, especially sushi.

Memorable moment: Returning home to Vernon Downs with his own bobble head doll when it was introduced.

Loves: Winning the Hambletonian.

First Car: 1967 Chevy Camaro.

Favorite TV Shows: Dexter, Californication and True Blood.

Favorite Other Sport: Golf.

Is Motivated By: Competition, wanting to do the job well, and seeing the happy faces of owners and trainers when he pulls a horse into the winner’s circle.

Pet: A Jack Russell named Riley.

Achievements:

The ADIOS

(2001) Pine Valley

(2010) Delmarvalous

ART ROONEY PACE

(2008) Badlands Nitro

BEN FRANKLIN

(2009) Mister Big

BREEDERS CROWN (2ct)

(2008) Muscle Hill

BREEDERS CROWN (2fp)

(2009) Fancy Filly

BREEDERS CROWN (3cp)

(2004) Western Terror

(2005) Rocknroll Hanover

BREEDERS CROWN (3fp)

(2006) My Little Dragon

(2007) Artcotic

BREEDERS CROWN (3ct)

(2009) Mister Big

(2004) Yankee Slide

(2005) Strong Yankee

(2007) Arch Madness

(2010) Break The Bank K

BREEDERS CROWN (3ft)

(2003) Stroke Play

(2004) Housethatruthbuilt

(2005) Blur

(2009) Broadway Schooner

BREEDERS CROWN (Hp)

(2005) Boulder Creek

(2006) Lis Mara

(2008) Mister Big

BREEDERS CROWN (Ht)

(2004) H P Paque

(2006) Sand Vic

BREEDERS CROWN (Mp)

(2008) My Little Dragon

CANADIAN PACING DERBY

(2006) Lis Mara

(2007) Lis Mara

(2008) Mister Big

CANADIAN TROTTING CLASSIC

(2009) Muscle Hill

CANE PACE

(2007) Always A Virgin

CUTLER MEMORIAL

(2010) Arch Madness

FAN HANOVER

(2005) Cabrini Hanover

(2011) See You At Peelers

GLEN GARNSEY MEMORIAL

(2005) Cabrini Hanover

(2006) My Little Dragon

(2008) Native Bride

GRADUATE

(2007) Lis Mara

HAMBLETONIAN

(2009) Muscle Hill

HAMBLETONIAN OAKS

(2009) Broadway Schooner

JAMES LYNCH MEMORIAL

(2010) Fancy Filly

KENTUCKY FUTURITY

(2005) Strong Yankee

(2009) Muscle Hill

KENTUCKY FILLY FUTURITY

(2004) Housethatruthbuilt

(2007) Falls For You

MAPLE LEAF TROT

(2008) Arch Madness

MAX HEMPT MEMORIAL

(2009) Johnny Z

MEADOWLANDS PACE

(2005) Rocknroll Hanover

MESSENGER

(2007) Always A Virgin

METRO

(2004) Rocknroll Hanover

(2008) Major In Art

MISTLETOE SHALEE

(2010) Dancinwiththestarz

NAT RAY

(2006) Sand Vic

NEW JERSEY CLASSIC

(2005) Rocknroll Hanover

NORTH AMERICA CUP

(2005) Rocknroll Hanover

PETER HAUGHTON MEMORIAL

(2005) Keystone Savage

(2007) Blue York Yankee

(2008) Muscle Hill

(2009) Holiday Road

SHE’S A GREAT LADY

(2005) Keystone Savage

STANLEY DANCER MEMORIAL

(2006) Mr Pine Chip

(2009) Muscle Hill

(2010) Holiday Road

TATTERSALLS

(2004) Western Terror

(2005) Rocknroll Hanover

(2006) Dave Panlone

THREE DIAMONDS

(2008) Hawaiian Drink

(2009) Fancy Filly

U.S. PACING CHAMPIONSHIP

(2005) Keystone Savage

(2008) Mister Big

WILLIAM HAUGHTON MEMORIAL

(2008) Mister Big

WOODROW WILSON

(2008) Major In Art

(2009) Windfall Blue Chip

By Duane RANGER (editor)

(1) Brian Sears 2010 Year In Review:

(2) Brian Sears – Track spotlight:

(3) Brian Sears and Muscle Hill winning the 2009 Hambletonian:

(4) Brian Sears and See You At Peelers winning the 2011 Fan Hanover Stakes Final:

(5) In The Sulky With Brian Sears – 2011:

2009 Ben Franklin Final- Mr. Big & Brian Sears- 1:48 

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