Photo by: Fotowon
Ron Gurfein knows something about getting a filly to win the Hambletonian. He’s the last trainer to do so, winning the race in 1996 with Continentalvictory (watch the 1996 Hambletonian here). Eighteen years later, will it happen again with Mission Brief? Gurfein believes it can.
Gurfein ruffled the feathers of Mission Brief’s trainer, Ron Burke, earlier this year when he didn’t place Mission Brief in his Top 5 in a preseason poll of 3-year-old trotters to be. Gurfein later explained that he thought Mission Brief raced so fast as a 2-year-old that it was bound to cost her at three.
“When you look at a standardbred or a thoroughbred, their bone density is so weak at two,” Gurfein said. “Just by racing at two you’re bound to suffer somewhat down the road, and you can really suffer when you go as fast as she did.”
For that reason, Gurfein predicted Mission Brief would have an off year at three.
“I don’t wish anybody any bad luck in this game,” Gurfein said. “There’s enough bad luck in this sport as there is. The bottom line is I didn’t think he’d get her where she is today.”
For a while, Gurfein looked right as Mission Brief came back at a level below her 3-year-old form. But over her last two starts she has turned things around, and comes into the Hambletonian off a very strong effort in the Zweig.
Now, Gurfein not only believes Mission Brief has a chance in the Hambletonian, but is quick to give kudos to the job Burke has done.
“Absolutely, this is a testament to Ron and his filly,” Gurfein said. “If she minds her manners she’s definitely the fastest horse in the race.”