George Brennan to surpass 8,000 wins this week

09:12 AM 13 Aug 2013 NZST
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George Brennan, harness racing
George Brennan is ten wins away from his 8,000th win
Lisa Photo

One night this week harness driver George Brennan will score his 8,000th career win.

It is a major milestone in anyone’s professional sports career. When he scores number 8,000 it will rank him 23rd among the greatest drivers in the
history of harness racing to have reached this plateau. As of Monday, August 12, he has 7,990 wins and needs just ten more to hit the mark.

Let’s take a look back when this youngster from Monticello, NY first got sarted in harness racing. That was in 1981 and he had but one drive, did not finish in the top three but his horse did earned some money.

“I can remember that day like it was yesterday,” Brennan recalled, “I was in an amateur drive’s race with a trotter named Myron’s Bunny. He made a
break but we still came back to finish fifth and the horse earned $50. My share as an amateur driver was donated to charity. It was $2.50.”

But it only took a few years more of hard work, patience’s and learning his trade and by the early 1990s George Brennan burst into the limelight. He had done well and then in 1995 stardom began. He went from winning under $300,000 a year with the horses he drove to not only surpassing the $1
million mark but earned over $2 million and that annual amount only increased every year. In 2012 the horses he drove won more than $10 million and that was down compared to the prior two years.

“My whole career has been absolutely great,” Brennan said. “I always had a dream to be a top driver and it has come true. Growing up I was in awe of
the top drivers. My father, Joe Ricco, Cat Manzi, John Campbell and Bill O’Donnell, I wanted to be like all the great drivers.”

And with his special achievements came the accolades to go with it. In 1996 he was named by the United States Harness Writers Association as the Rising Star Award winner and then in 2010 and 2011 that same organization would name him the Driver of the Year. And he capped that off in 2012 by becoming one of the few drivers in the history of the sport to win both the $1.5 million Hambletonian Trot and the $750,000 Hambletonian Oaks finals on the same day. He was also named Harness Tracks of America’s Driver of the Year back-to-back in 2011 and 2012 and that feat requires that you have the highest combined average of any driver in the sport in wins, money earned and driving percentage.

The past two year’s George’s Universal Driving Rating (UDR) or “batting average” has been a super impressive .400.

“I’m really proud of all my awards,” Brennan said, “It took a lot of work from starting out cleaning stalls and working my way up the ladder, but I would never trade it in.”

When not traveling throughout North America driving the best horses in the nation, Brennan makes the hilltop at Yonkers Raceway his home where he has been the leading reinsman for years and in all likelihood will score win number 8,000 there.

“I hope I can hit the mark at Yonkers this week,” Brennan added. “I’m not looking for anything special from racing. I just want to keep healthy, be safe and keep on driving good horses. A lot of people have supported me over the years with great horses to drive and I just want to keep on doing it.”

By Steve Wolf
 

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