03/11/2013 4:09PM

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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Dennis Fawcett More than 1 year ago
another useless piece by bergman . his streak is in tact
Jeff Mcintosh More than 1 year ago
Gabe More than 1 year ago
Here we go again because this guy have a high win pct, let's go after him just like Pena who by the way is back in training and you could say not guilty because NYS had no case against him....instead of you picking on this guy you should contact Jeff Gural at the big M and ask him why Burke & Coleman are allowed to race there with positves and not Gilbert Garcia and Brandon Todd with no positives.... I think i can answer this, Gural thinks they are both link to Pena who by the way had no positives This sport is a joke, it's just like our goverment....they are all morons
Truthseeker More than 1 year ago
Coleman has been banned form the Meadowlands. she got 60 days and a $16,000 fine for three positives in Canada.
Dawn Barletta More than 1 year ago
Todd is another juicer not worthy of any publicity, and from experience being in the horse business when I was younger as a groom all these so called great trainers are frauds they are chemists ( Milkshakers) they would be nothing without there long plastic tubes. Disgraceful what these people due to horses, don't believe me here is a fact trainers stabled in the back at the Big M which is heavily guarded 24-7 with security are winning at a clip of 6% the rest of our so called shippers have a winning clip over 92% Gaitway Showplace farm no security. But it does not matter regardless even if they get caught ask E Ledford back driving, Lou Pena back training, Jordin Rubin, R Wojcio list GOESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS ON.
Bo More than 1 year ago
So true. Todd came from Calpo. He is related to Ed Hensley, and the Desomer family thru now deceased Jim Todd who last raced in B.C. Canada. This kid was and maybe still is a drug addict who left Ca. before he was going to get pinched for cocaine. Hung around the tubing experts such as Gilbert, Pena, and Ray Burt. He is also known to his people as Slim Shady. They are all what you described. I used to like harness racing.....now I can't stand what these idiots have done to the game. I only care about the horses and feel sorry what some have to go through.
Jeff Mcintosh More than 1 year ago
where do you get off thinking this guy owes you anything
Truthseeker More than 1 year ago
Jay Bergman is only fulfilling his role as a harness racing journalist. I for one would want to know more about Todd's past history, his reaction and reasons for his immediate success, how long has he been in the business and who were his mentors, and why did use Lou Pena as his trainer when he was an owner. Many trainers and drivers enjoy the publicity and routinely give interviews. Todd is now in the public eye and publicity and dealing with journalists is part of the price for success. a hatchet job is when a journalist s distorts the facts versus an investigate journalist that digs deep to learn the facts.
Jeff Mcintosh More than 1 year ago
Truthseeker More than 1 year ago
Curiously, neither Todd, Gregory or Garcia-Herrara race at he Meadowlands. Have they applied for permission and been denied access? Also, perhaps the Meadolwands can issue a list of trainers who have been denied permission to race there? it's in the best interest of all concerned to let the public know this information.
Teenie Bopper More than 1 year ago
Berkeley's back, too. :( As for Dutrow, his assistant Michelle Nevin took over some of his horses; her results have been underwhelming. More of his horses went to Rudy Rodriguez, who has, by and large, done amazingly well with them. Rodriguez was always a serious cold-weather competitor of Dutrow's, and is quite unlikely to be a beard. J. Treaty Of Guadalupe-Hidalgo took over his brother's Parx string after JC got kicked out of Parx in 2011 for non-drug-related doings. JCG continues to do well with his claims in NY. As for Gregory, just look up the past performances of claimer Hrubys N Luck, and his new mark of ...1:48.2. In the old days, Buddy Gilmour (among many others) got tossed routinely, then magically reappeared a few months later, again and again without fail. Nothing much has changed, though Gural is doing his level best to improve the situation.
Robert Pandolfo More than 1 year ago
Interesting column. There are so many beards at Yonkers it looks like a ZZ Top festival. What about Cad Gregory? This guy was out of the sport for 6 years after a drug suspension, came back last year and won 44 races in only 132 starts. As for the Lightning Lane Stable, all racetracks should carefully scrutinize the past history of this stable.
Hunter Delaney More than 1 year ago
how about the nonsense going on at Parx???? J. Guadalupe Guerrero, from 1991 a total win percentage of 9%, 83 winners over 20 years. 2012 stats...83 winners at a 28 % clip, and 12 for 43 this year for same 28% clip. Miraculous, ........
Nathan More than 1 year ago
good story. my first reply was deleted. i am now 100% brisnet and d.r.f. can keep on supplying useless info to the all the losers out there.
Teenie Bopper More than 1 year ago
Harness racing has precious little reportage as is, and you want this writer to churn out publicity releases? Sad... too sad.