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Monday, June 4, 2012

Brennan Banned from Meadowlands

It just gets stranger and stranger.  Harnesslink reports that driver George Brennan has been banned from the Meadowlands by operator Jeff Gural, allegedly for comments Brennan made in a New York Times article about the Pena suspension (you just can't get away from it) where Brennan is quoted as saying:

I just know his [Lou Pena's] horses look really good, and they race for a long time.  They're throwing this guy to the wolves when the primary objective in this game is to win races. Obviously, someone is out to get him. 

Let's address the 'Freedom of Speech' issue first.  The first amendment of the constitution deals with government  not doing anything to quash free speech, there is nothing in the constitution which says a private organization can't.  Regardless, Freedom of Speech is a two-way street,  While you get the right to speak your mind, you also need to be willing to taking the consequences for what you say.

Gural has his reasons for telling Brennan the 'No Vacancy' sign is up at the Meadowlands.  No doubt Brennan didn't help his case by making these comments having abandoned the Meadowlands for Yonkers (Brennan had only twenty-two drives this year at the Big M).  It is safe to assume if someone like Andy Miller (just picking a name) made these comments, Miller would still be driving at the Meadowlands (perhaps after a sit down).   

To be perfectly honest, my first reaction was 'WTF?  He banished Brennan over this?"  But as I was writing this column it became apparent to me it was not as simple as that.  Here are a few questions which came to me. 

  • "They're throwing this guy to the wolves when the primary objective in this game is to win races".  Strike the first part of that sentence and what you have is  "They're throwing this guy to the wolves when the primary objective in this game is to win races".  Hopefully, no one is thinking doing whatever it takes to win a race including cheating is acceptable? 
  • It's no secret that George Brennan is the the face for Team Pena over at Yonkers.  Even though no one has made any allegations against Brennan, is it a case of "You are Judged by the Company you Keep'?
  • If it is a problem of being associated with Pena, do we expect drivers to give up live drives from trainers under suspicion of cheating?   After all, isn't someone else going to just drive the horse?  Is this realistic?

Suddenly, while not fully convinced, I am beginning to see why the welcome mat has been pulled in for Brennan.  I am not sure I agree with it, but it gives me reason to pause and think about it.

Harnesslink questions if Jeff Gural can refuse to let Brennan drive at the Meadowlands.  The brief answer is 'yes'.  It has happened at plenty of tracks where a driver has been asked to take their services elsewhere, though typically not for comments they may make.  The bottom line is as a privately operated facility, management has the right to exclude someone from their facility, be they an owner, trainer, driver, and even gambler.


Anonymous said...

I don't envy Mr. Gural. He is trying to clean up the sport and grow his business at the same time while selectively excluding high profile (and successful) drivers and trainers. Not an easy thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Gural zest to clean up harness racing may be admirable but he is now trampling on issues that go beyond the sport. George Brennan (whether correct or incorrect) has all the right to express his feelings about Lou Pena. If we were all put in jail or made to be publicly ridiculed for comments we make then this would not be a democracy but more like something Cuba is. Perhaps Mr. Gural should open a harness track in Havanna.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I suspect what George meant is not what he said.

Drivers tend to take the position that if “they’re not caught”, it’s o.k. which morally is condoning the conduct.

So if you take what Brennan was quoted as saying and the traditional attitude of a driver which is you don't do the judge's job, I can see how Gural reacted the way he did.

I suspect once the two of them talk and Brennan explains what he meant, this will blow over.

Anonymous said...

In New Jersey a public place ,even privately run ones, do not have a complete right to exclude someone. See Uston VS RESORTS INTERNATIONAL.
"Nonetheless, we feel constrained to refute any implication arising from the Commission's opinion that absent supervening statutes, the owners of places open to the public enjoy an absolute right to exclude patrons without good cause. We hold that the common law right to exclude is substantially limited by a competing common law right of reasonable access to public places."

Anonymous said...

There are times George's mouth engages before his brain does. This is a great example.

Pacingguy said...

Regarding the Resorts case. This ruling involves a patron, not someone who works there. This I believe allows for the barring of Brennan. I also do believe that Gural legally has 'good cause' to bar Brennan as well if that standard does apply.

Pacingguy said...

In a second post which I accidently deleted, Anon also brought up the following:

Also isn't the Meadowlands still state owned.See BURTON v. WILMINGTON PARKING AUTHORITY.

That arguement came up in the Pena injunction request and dismissed by the judge.

Anonymous said...

All of us back west have been laughing so hard when Pena showed up at The Meadowlands winning all those races as a trainer. We all knew he had to be dopin' as he wasn't a big shot trainer at Cal Expo, Sacramento. The question is why did it take The Big M so long to find the proof? Since it's a free country, Brennan the face of Pena Racing? Nawww, more like a horse's ass.