The following was first reported by the Daily Racing Form.
Despite an edict from Meadowlands operator Jeff Gural that driver Brian Sears will not be permitted to compete in qualifying, baby or overnight races at his three tracks (also Tioga and Vernon), the driver made an appearance on Friday morning at the East Rutherford oval.
Sears was dressed in his colors with every intention of driving in at least the first baby race on the card behind Saturday Mornings for trainer Joe Holloway. The 2-year-old filly is co-owned by Bluestone Farms LLC.
Sears took the lines and was ready to go on the track when he was asked to take a call from Racing Secretary Peter Koch. Sears explained to Koch that Mitchell Skolnick, part of the Bluestone ownership group, had told him to drive. Skolnick then spoke to Koch and the decision was reached that Brian would have to sit out.
“I tried, I guess that’s it,” said a dejected Sears.
Sears was also supposed to drive 2013 Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life as he prepares for the Hambletonian Maturity at the Meadowlands on July 5. David Miller took the assignment and finished third in a 1:53 2/5 mile won by Mistery Woman.
The air was filled with tension as many of the top drivers seemed dumbfounded by the ban. “If it could happen to Brian, I guess I could be next,” said one driver.
As of this writing, Gural has yet to issue an official statement with his reasoning for the decision.
By Derick Giwner, for the Daily Racing Form