03/11/2013 3:09PM

Bergman: Trainer Brandon Todd remains a mystery


Who is Brandon Todd?

Why would anyone want to write anything about him?

We tried to find out who Brandon Todd was this week. For those unaware of his name or his record, Todd, 26, first became a listed trainer in November of 2012 and since that point has exhibited an immense talent. In 2012 alone his mounts won 8 of 22 starts in the big leagues racing exclusively at Yonkers Raceway and Harrah’s Philadelphia.

Thus far in 2013, Todd is still winning at a high percentage with 13 scores in 43 starts through Saturday night at Yonkers. That’s 21 wins in his first 65 starts against some tough competition.

If Todd were coming up in any other sport besides harness racing, there wouldn’t be just one reporter trying to get his unique story; there would be hundreds!

What Brandon Todd has done is nothing short of sensational. Breaking into the major leagues at the highest level and belting 95 M.P.H. fastballs over the fence with regularity. The mere fact that he’s fourth in the Yonkers trainer standings behind such powerhouses as Ron Burke, P.J. Fraley and Rene Allard suggests his arrival on the scene is worth mention.

I called Brandon Todd earlier this week and on my first attempt I was greeted by a voice that said, “I’m sorry but the person you called has a voice mail box that has not been set up yet.”

While I thought it strange, I was reminded that my daughter, who recently got a new cellphone, had the same message on her phone for quite some time before officially activating the mail box.

Fortunately Brandon Todd actually called me back and told me that he had missed a call and it had my number. I told Todd who I was and that I was interested in an interview. He was quick to say he didn’t want any publicity. I told him I just had a few questions but he was reluctant to speak. Eventually after much prodding, Todd said he would return my call later when he was less busy.

A day later I called Todd and he answered the phone immediately. Again he sounded busy and promised to call back later in the afternoon when he had some free time. Again there was no return phone call.

Everyone is entitled to privacy, that’s for sure. However, in a sport where the athletes themselves, the horses, have no verbal skills, it is imperative that the trainers or drivers or owners complete the story. The trainers are the best to speak with since they spend the most time with the horses.

Here are some of the questions I wanted to ask Brandon Todd:

1. You have only been listed as a trainer since last November but you have been fortunate to attract owners on the East Coast and in California. Did you advertise anywhere or was it just word of mouth in attracting these owners?

2. When did you begin your association with standardbreds?

3. Who have you worked for in this industry?

4. Why did you purchase the horse So Confusing from Jennifer Sabot on November 9, 2012 and sell it back to her on November 16, 2012?

5. You broke on the scene as an owner in February of 2011 with Lou Pena as your trainer and have also used Garcia-Herrera before getting your training license. Did you learn the trade from those veteran horsemen?

6. At one point or another you have owned either fully or in part 10 stardardbreds, but you have no ownership today in any. Given your success as a trainer could you explain why you are no longer an owner?

Sometimes luck plays an extraordinary role in a person’s success. Todd has been fortunate to this point having been given horses by successful owners such as Lee Cotroneo and Lightning Lane Stables. He’s also training Lightning Storm for part-owner Joe Muscara. It’s certainly great to see that accomplished owners would be willing to give a first-time trainer the opportunity to succeed.

However, it’s hard to understand without a first-hand explanation why any person would buy a horse from an owner and then sell the same horse back to that owner seven days later? Generally in the open market sellers are trying to get rid of an asset they no longer want to hold while buyers are purchasing these assets with intent on profiting.

And I’d certainly be interested in why Mr. Todd would have purchased Glass Pack from Lightning Lane Stable (owners he trains for as well) and have incredible success with the horse going up the claiming ladder, only to have Lightning Lane re-buy the horse back from him in February.

As far as Mr. Todd’s relationships with former California-based trainers Garcia-Herrera and Pena, it’s a part of the story that would be better explained with first hand information from Todd himself. Both Garcia-Herrera and Pena were long time trainers in California and there’s no reason for me to believe that Todd couldn’t have gained training knowledge from either one or both men.

Pena, who was suspended for over 1,700 violations of New York racing rules brought on by an investigation that revealed he allegedly administered certain medications too close to race time, recently had his license temporarily reinstated by a state court because the Commission failed to rule on Pena’s case in a timely matter.

Here’s hoping that Brandon Todd remembers my phone number (he’s got a host of missed calls with it) and answers at least some of these questions so we can complete a more accurate account of his meteoric rise.


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