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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sears Banned from Meadowlands, Tioga, and Vernon Downs

Harnesslink has confirmed that driver Brian Sears has been banned from racing at the three tracks operated by Jeff Gural in overnight and qualifying races. Sears will be able to continue driving horses in stakes races at the three tracks (at least until it is seen if he can be banned from those races).  Of course, if you can't qualify or drive a horse in an overnight event, it is much harder to pick up the drive on that Grand Circuit horse as someone else is going to get first shot with those horses; so not being able to ban a driver from a stakes race may be a moot point.

Needless to say, this has caused an uproar with those who think drivers should be able to race wherever they are licensed to race.  Some people are saying Gural is being petty by barring Sears because he has made a choice to race at Yonkers (of course, this assumes it is the reason for the exclusion).

I disagree.

As far as I am concerned, it was a business decision made, a decision which Gural had the right to make (provided he is willing to deal with any downside which could come from the decision).

Brian Sears made a business decision to race at Yonkers Raceway full time and to race at the Meadowlands only when the big money is on the line in stakes races.  Jeff Gural appears on the surface to have made a business decision if Sears can't find the time to race two nights a week at the Meadowlands (allowing him three nights to race at Yonkers and their slot-infused purses), then he doesn't want him racing at his tracks at all.  Basically, it is a question of Gural saying 'You can't have it both ways'.

And what is wrong with that?  You have drivers racing at the Meadowlands out of sense of loyalty to the track, or admittedly at different points (on the way up or on the way down) in their careers, forsaking larger purses to race at the Meadowlands.  Why should these drivers have someone cherry-picking when they will race at the Meadowlands by waltzing in, taking potential drives (and purse money) away from them while the regular drivers are out there day in, day out, in the depths of winter or heat of summer?

As for those horseplayers who think this is unfair, how would your current employer feel if he knew you were working certain days for the competition?  I suspect they would not be happy.  Try working for two real estate companies (realtors are licensed) at the same time; odds are you would be told to choose on over the other (assuming you weren't sacked).

For those horse people who feel a driver should be able to race wherever he wants to, how do you feel about your track's preference rules for getting a horse in to race?  Are you complaining when the preferences are written so the only way a horse bred and sired in a different state by an out of state owner is if the track can't get a full field of eight horses after going five preferences down?  If you meet those preferences you probably think it is the greatest thing in the world; if you are hurt by those preferences, probably not.  Why are those preferences there?  To protect the interests of those who support the local racing and breeding program.  Remember, those owners who have horses that don't fit the preferences can always invest in a horse that would qualify to race at the track; they made a business decision not to.

The bottom line is Brian Sears made a business decision to race at Yonkers while Gural made a business decision to say 'stay there'.  They both have the right to make their own decisions on how to run their own businesses.  Part of running a business is having to deal with the consequences of your decisions (this applies to both).

You don't always get your cake and eat it too.

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