Some of America's top harness racing drivers believe the Jeff Gural - George Brennan case will sort itself out when the two talk in person, while others are running scared preferring not to be associated with the case.
“I don’t want my name even mentioned with this. I’m too scared to say something in case I’m next,” one Top 10 USA reinsman told Harnesslink.
By “next” he meant he too could be the next driver to be banished from Gural’s Meadowlands Racetrack.
Brennan was advised by Meadowlands management that he was no longer welcome to drive at the facility.
It came about because of negative comments he made in the New York Times regarding the Lou Pena suspension.
Harnesslink had a world-wide first on Brennan’s situation on Sunday (June 4). It can be viewed here.
But now Brennan’s half-brother Jason Ricco, who himself has saluted the judge 73 times and also trained 70 winners, has spoken out on behalf of his older sibling.
“George is a bit lost at the moment and is still getting his head around this. I can tell he was shocked. He is in no position to comment.
“I know George is one of the sport’s greats and he is good for the Meadowlands and the Meadowlands is good for him. He is a Hambo Oaks and Hambletonian champion. He is a great advertisement for the place.
“But in saying that we do respect the decision that Mr Gural has taken. You have to remember if it wasn’t for him the Meadowlands would just be a parking lot now and no-one would be racing.
“It’s his track and he has the right to set the rules as he sees fit. I know he just wants to see harness racing put in a positive light in the media but George was just saying what he believed.
“George and Jeff are friends. I know they will sort this out in person very soon. They need each other,” Ricco said.
Driving superstar Ron Pierce said he hadn’t got to the “bottom of the story yet” but believed his mate Brennan was entitled to his opinion.
“We wouldn’t be racing if it wasn’t for Jeff Gural’s ideas. It pays not to p##s anyone off in this Industry but I can tell you what I believe and I’m not ashamed to say it.
“In racing today there are great trainers and there are great chemists – and sadly a lot of these great trainers can no longer compete against the great chemists.
“I’m 55. I’ve been in this game a long time and I have noticed the changes over the years and I’ve also known who the great horsemen have been,” Pierce said.
He said the medication rulings in the United States were badly in need of change.
“It should be like Scandinavia does it. No horse is permitted to be touched by a needle, except for maybe acupuncture, 13 days prior to the running of a race.
“If that happened then we would see who the real horsemen are. I don’t know much about medication but I do know a bit about horses and the majority of them are taking some sort of medication close to race-time.
“Banning needles two weeks out would sort all this out,” Pierce said.
Fellow New Jersey reinsman Yannick Gingras said he had respect for both Gural and Brennan.
“It’s not really any of my business but what I do know is that Jeff and George are friends and I know they will solve this together. They are both good people doing wonderful things for our sport. We need them both,” Gingras said.
Maryland driver Corey Callahan also had praise for Gural.
“We are fortunate to have Mr Gural in harness racing. He does a lot for the sport and it just wouldn’t be the same without regular racing at the Meadowlands.
“I’m just starting to get going there and I’m loving the place,” Callahan said.
Harnesslink spoke to several other prominent USA drivers about this story. Some ran quicker than Usain Bolt, while others preferred to ignore our requests for an interview.
One of those not willing to comment on the subject was another New Jersey horseman Brian Sears.
By Duane RANGER (editor)