06/19/2014 4:02PM

Harness: Brian Sears banned from Meadowlands

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Brian Sears won the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands in 2013.

Harness driver Brian Sears has officially been banned from driving in overnight and qualifying races at the Meadowlands according to a statement by track operator Jeff Gural on Harnesslink.com.

When contacted by DRF, Gural would only say, “I assure you I have a very good reason,” in response to why Sears has been excluded from participating.

Sears issued a formal statement as follows:

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I am deeply disappointed in Jeff Gural’s recent decision to exclude me from The Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon.

I am a licensed driver in good standing with the New Jersey Racing Commission, the New York Gaming Commission and all other governing bodies throughout North America. I have done nothing wrong and have broken no rules. The only thing I did was say no to Jeff when he asked me to leave Yonkers and return to the Meadowlands earlier this year.

Owners in this game pay a lot of money to buy good horses and pay a lot of money to stake those good horses everywhere including the Meadowlands. Some of those owners want me to drive their horses in baby races, qualifiers, overnights and stakes.

I’ve spent my whole career working hard to get to a point where owners want to have me drive their top horses. It’s disheartening that this is an issue.

Sears, one of the leading drivers in the country over the previous decade, won the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands last year with Royalty For Life and was listed to drive that horse on Friday morning. Trainer George Ducharme confirmed that the now 4-year-old would indeed qualify but he was still looking for a driver.

"We just found out about it at noon and the owners are discussing it," said Ducharme on who would drive. The trainer added that Royalty For Life would either qualify one more time after Friday or just come back on July 5 for the $400,000 Hambletonian Maturity at the Meadowlands. 

Sears may or may not be permitted to drive in stakes races.