06/20/2014 3:16PM

Harness: Jeff Gural speaks out on banning Brian Sears

Jeff Gural banned Brian Sears from driving at Meadowlands, Tioga and Vernon.

The following is a direct statement from Meadowlands Operator Jeff Gural.

“I like to think that all that know me in our industry recognize that I have been a tireless advocate for the highest in professional standards and best practices for our professionals and for the horses they drive. I ask that all those….drivers, trainers, owners….who join me in this sport that we love, abide by these standards.

"Mr. Sears and I have our differences over the standards that we choose to apply at the Meadowlands and whether or not he should have been loyal to the Meadowlands rather than move to Yonkers. Back in May, after Andy Miller was injured and David Miller received a concussion, I called Brian and asked if under the circumstances with two drivers out would he come back and drive on the weekends to fill in the void. He said no, which is his right. 

"With the beginning of the two-year-old baby races and with our major stakes coming up in July I thought it best that Brian not drive in these qualifiers given his decision not to help out in those circumstances. Candidly, I was quite disappointed when he refused to help out when Andy and David went down with injuries. 

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"Brian then called me and once again I asked him to come back for at least the last six weeks of the meet and, as I knew he would be driving on Saturdays with all the other leading drivers at either Mohawk or Pocono. I did not think asking him to drive a couple of Fridays was such a big deal since obviously in July he would be driving on Saturdays at the Meadowlands anyway. Brian made some comments to me that I thought differed from my standards as to how to conduct a race meet. In the end he agreed to come over and drive for the last six weeks of the meet.  We asked Brian if it would be okay to let people know that he was coming back so he would get as many drives as possible. He told us that he preferred we did not do that as he would get the word out to the trainers on his own. 

"I thought that was the end of it and looked forward to having him back since he is such a talented driver. Brian drove in some qualifiers and on Monday, when we opened the box, I saw that he was only down on one horse. I immediately called Jason and told him to tell the judges to try to get Brian as many mounts as possible so he would not complain. Jason called me the next morning and told me that he saw that Brian was down to drive at Yonkers on Friday and when he called Brian he told Jason that since he did not get any work it did not make sense for him to come to the Meadowlands.

"I was very disappointed but it soon occurred to me that Brian and I had a major difference over the standards that we choose to apply at the Meadowlands, and it would not be in the  best interest of the Meadowlands to allow him to race. I knew I would get heat from many of the owners who use Brian on their stakes horses but I thought I would deal with that separately and probably let him drive as I did not want to hurt any of the owners who spend their money buying yearlings or raising them at their farms. 

"The truth is I actually like Brian although I have been extremely disappointed that he chose to abandon the Meadowlands and especially that he would not do me the small favor when Andy and David went down. I remember last year when he won the Hambletonian, I gave him a big hug and congratulated him because he is a great driver.

"Brian called me yesterday but I did not have a chance to return the call as I am on vacation in Colorado celebrating my 50th college reunion with old friends.  Hopefully we can speak next week when I get back and resolve the matter as I was just trying to get his attention and not to start World War III in the industry."

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Tim Wells More than 1 year ago
This is a repost of a comment I made. Do you see Mr. Sears Mentioned in this Comment because I don't. Like I said back off on the attacks and learn to read Little Joey and don't forget to take your meds. Tim Wells20 hours ago Pennsylvania is also the state that gave Eric Ledford a fresh start after he was taken away in Handcuffs and handed a 10 year suspension and that was also reduced when Seldon Ledford took a lifetime ban to get Erics Suspesion reduced and get him back into racing. Pennsylvania also is the place that gave Brett Miller a fresh start when he was kicked out of Indiana for failed drug tests. Pennsylvania is also the state that welcomed Fillion back and gave him a chance to drive. Moral of the story is if you do wrong in the sport of Harness racing the Pennsylvania racing commission will help you get back into the bike. His second sample came back as non-confirmed which doesn't mean it was clean just means that somehow mysteriously they could not determine what he was using or what the sample contained. Not being around for the secret handshake I am not sure how much it cost to get a non-confirmed test
Tim Wells More than 1 year ago
Try Hooked on Phonics so you can decipher what you read. If it is to hard for you to understand ask your mommy when you are in bed with her taking your nap. By the way when you are a corporate Lawyer Like myself you know the Law and a whole lot better then you do. You might want to brush back your attacks as subpoena's are not that hard to get and I would have lot's of fun digging into your background. Just a reminder
Joe Manner More than 1 year ago
Timmy I did notice you didn't deny that you accused Brian of paying a bribe, or that I was wrong about purses vs handle. Did you take your nap yet today?
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Reggie Blanco More than 1 year ago
My face is to pretty to put on facebook, but come halloween I will show the kids your mug.Then again I CANT really scare little kids like that.
Joe Manner More than 1 year ago
Timmy I missed this response ( I'm sure the lawyers didn't ) "That doesn't mean he wasn't guilty they just had some quiet secret payoffs to bury the tests." Timmy , still want to say you didn't accuse Brian of paying a bribe? Hope you have a good lawyer.
Joe Manner More than 1 year ago
Hey Timmy you just proved your ignorance of the racing game by bringing in the handle at a track. News flash drivers are paid on the % of the purse. I think you should ask your mommy for your crayons and add up the weekly purses at both Yonkers and Gural's track and then try and figure out why Brian chooses to race at Yonkers.
Joe Manner More than 1 year ago
"Not being around for the secret handshake I am not sure how much it cost to get a non-confirmed test" Sorry Timmy that statement is accusing Brian of giving a bribe. Go ahead and delete it if you want I can assure you legal folks already have it. If you don't think your liable for making these type of statements just look at the recent rulings.
johnd More than 1 year ago
I am utterly astonished this man actually agreed to have this letter published. He comes across as a petty, vindictive, vengeful man with no broader view than the end of his nose. This is the man who was hailed as the "savior" of harness racing in New Jersey who seems to think "it's all about me" and to hell with the broader picture of a sport that's dying save for "casino welfare". Now I understand exactly how bad shape harness racing is in...and why.
Pat More than 1 year ago
Poor Mr. Gural's feelings are hurt. Pity the poor man as he continues to make a farce out of the Meadowlands and the racing there. What a circus this man has turned the Meadowlands into: two nights a week of live racing. Simulcasting is cramped, filthy and downright scary and this is supposed to be the "new and improved" Meadowland. Just another disaster for Harness Racing. But really, can one expect anything different from the people running it? Phew!
Tim Wells More than 1 year ago
Believe what you want Mr. Manner . I did not know you were such good friends with Sears. I am not accusing anyone of taking bribes I just know the dirty side of this sport a lot better then you do. I once asked Dave Brower, a top handicapper at the Meadowlands to tell it like it really is and he told me flat out that He wish he could but he liked his Job to much. These analysts are not stupid but it is obvious that a lot of people live in a Fantasy world that Racing is clean whether it be the drivers or the Trainers. Mr. Manner maybe we should just get rid of Drug tests all together since you think everyone is so Clean. I have even read comments that Mr. Gural is afraid of Competition and people who believe that Yonkers is any Competition to the Meadowlands live in a Fantasy World. Meadowlands handles over 2 million a night and Yonkers struggles to handle a half a million a night. Meadowlands racing is so much better then Yonkers and maybe that has something to do with the product they put out. If it were not for slots Yonkers purses would be about 20% of what they are now.