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McDermott brothers, John Brennan feted by N.J. harness writers
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - by Ken Weingartner, for the New Jersey chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association

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East Rutherford, NJ--Trainers John McDermott and Kevin McDermott, as well as Bergen Record reporter John Brennan, will be honored by the New Jersey chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers Association in winner’s circle ceremonies after the first race on Friday night (Aug. 17) at Meadowlands Racetrack. First race post time is 6:35 p.m.
The McDermotts, brothers who are Kearny, N.J., natives, will receive the Stanley Dancer Award while Brennan will be presented the Media Award for his extensive and balanced coverage of the Meadowlands Racetrack and statewide gaming.
Created in 1991, the Dancer Award honors an individual whose efforts on behalf of racing and cooperation with the media are in keeping with the example set by the late Hall of Fame driver and trainer Stanley Dancer, a native of New Egypt, N.J.
Known for their quick wits in addition to quick horses, the McDermotts have been fixtures on the Garden State’s racing scene for more than a decade.
The 44-year-old Kevin McDermott, who got his start as a teenager by writing letters – he became a pen pal of sorts with Dancer and got his first stable job by writing to Meadowlands trainer Jim Doherty  asking for work, is now nearing 1,300 training wins of his own. He is best known for his conditioning of horses such as Yes Its True, Mac Action, Blueridge Western, Noble Falcon and Hypnotic Blue Chip. His stable is $35,000 shy of producing its sixth consecutive million-dollar season.
John McDermott, 46, traded his job as a police officer for training horses. He also is enjoying a strong 2012 campaign, thanks in part to speedy 3-year-old colt pacer Hurrikane Kingcole, who has posted the second-fastest winning mile (1:47.3) of the year.
The McDermott brothers have for years provided horses, equipment, time and expertise for many educational and promotional efforts in harness racing. When jockey Donna Brothers needed to learn to drive a pacer behind the gate for an NBC segment, John offered up one of his racehorses and a brand new sulky for the experience. When the Ridgewood, N.J., Girl Scouts needed a lesson in horsemanship, Kevin and his wife Sheri happily provided their retired Standardbred Nite Train.

Countless media people have gotten a lesson in Harness Racing 101 from the brothers, who always take time out of their busy schedules to demonstrate and explain the finer points of horse racing. Youth camps, news or talk show segments, a horse for Santa Claus to drive around the track, an extra stall for a rescue horses, a donation to a worthy charity – the McDermotts have established themselves as the go-to guys at the Meadowlands.
Previous recipients of the Dancer Award include drivers John Campbell, Ray Remmen and Luc Ouellette; trainers Robbie Siegelman, Kelly Stackowicz and George Teague Jr.; the father-son team of Carl and Rod Allen; the duo of trainer Jimmy Takter and owner/amateur driver Mal Burroughs; the Meirs Family of Walnridge Farms for the Niatross Tour, and equine facilitator Robert Sharkey.
Brennan has covered sports business, with a focus on the Meadowlands complex, since 2002 for the Bergen Record. He joined the paper in 1983 and during his career spent eight years as the New Jersey Nets traveling beat writer. His Meadowlands Matters blog was chosen in 2011 as “Best Blog” by the New Jersey Press Association and in 2008 Brennan and co-writer Jeff Pillets were Pulitzer Prize finalists for local reporting.
“For the past two years the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owned and managed the two primary racetracks in the state, has been in political flux,” said Moira Fanning, president of the New Jersey chapter of the U.S. Harness Writers. “John Brennan’s Meadowlands Matters has become the site with the first and most informative news about the future of the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. He provides fair and unbiased reporting, insider access and represents all points of view and every side of complex issue, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions.”
Past recipients of the Media Award include Tom Pedulla of USA Today, Robert Strauss of the New York Times and Ken Weingartner of the Princeton Packet.

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