Food I cannot stomach, my picks for the M Pace and thoughts on new HOF nominees

Food I can’t stomach, my picks for the M Pace and thoughts on the new HOF nominees and Clay Horner’s suggestion about changing the NA Cup

July 6, 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Ron Gurfein

Tidbits: To my editor and friend congratulations on your induction to the Communicators’ Hall of Fame. You are far more than deserving. To all my friends that couldn’t reach me over the weekend, I apologize. In Philadelphia you are in the hands of the Philistines (i.e. COMCAST) the absolute worst company in the universe. We had NO land line, cell phones, Internet or TV for almost 60 hours.

The show from Pocono was very good on Saturday night. Heather Wilder and her interviews were a definite bright spot and Jay Bergman (who by the way gave me the Guru nickname about 30 years ago) did a very good job as the visiting handicapper.

One thing that really troubled me was that after looking out of sorts the entire mile Manchego finally made a break as a big favorite, as did Lather Up at 1-9. Neither Jimmy Takter nor Clyde Francis were asked to enlighten us on the problems that caused the mishaps. Since then, the Teague camp has said Lather Up scoped sick and had a sore mouth, but as of the moment no word on the filly. Stay tuned.

Corey Stern asks: You seem to have very varied tastes in food are there any foods you really dislike?

It’s funny that I have acquired tastes for almost all foods. I love oysters, caviar, olives, and adore calves liver the foods most people would put on the dislike list. There are however some foods and some flavors I absolutely cannot eat. Although the list is small I am truly hardcore in my distaste for the following:

Top of the list is what is considered an Italian delicacy, Tripe. I first tried eating Tripe in a gourmet restaurant on Hollywood Blvd in 1961. Just the fact that I remember the place and date illustrates what a trauma this was to me. I do have many friends that love the dish, to me there is no food worse.

My daughter and her husband love Uni or Sea Urchin as it is referred to in many Japanese restaurants. To me the consistency is horrid, along with the awful taste. When I Googled it, the explanation was that “the taste isn’t for everyone”, the understatement of all time.

Believe it or not, those are the only foods I would never try again. There are some spices and one vegetable that I prefer to stay away from. Cardamom and Tarragon are the spices that could ruin any good dish and add Fennel to a salad or a fine fish and I just can’t eat it.

If I have injured the feelings of some connoisseurs out there I am terribly sorry I’m truly meant no harm.

Anonymous asks: What do you think of the new Hall of Fame nominees for 2019?

All I can say is better late than never. I want to think that the pressure put on the committee by many harness writers and fans finally did some good, but no matter what the reason I am very pleased by the change in attitude. Linda Toscano, Joe Holloway, Blair Burgess, Ted Wing and Ted Gewertz are the newest selected by the committee to be voted on for induction next year.

All of them possess integrity beyond question and have achieved a myriad of lofty accomplishments deserving of HOF selection.

To all of my readers that do possess a vote in the final selection (as I am privileged to have) I urge you to vote yes on all the nominees. Another amazing fact from the Guru: Joe and Linda are the first American trainers to be nominated in 13 years, and Blair is the first Canadian trainer nominated since Bob MacIntosh in 2002.

On another note, why was Roger Huston chirping about the committee approving the nomination of his late friend Charlie Hinkle, by a 5-0 vote? Roger could get a 5-0 vote if he proposed Alfred E Newman.

Dave Briggs asked: What did you think of Clay Horner’s suggestion that the North America Cup be changed to a Canada only event?

All in all, the creation of indigenous racing is a proponent of mediocrity. It severely retards the progress of the breeding industry. This will result in screams about Wiggle it Jiggleit, Hannelore Hanover, and others, but trust me they are the exception. If you see what the value of these state breeds are after their local stakes are completed, most fall in the cheap claiming range.

In Canada now the local breds have more than enough money to race for with one of the best sires stake programs anywhere. The NA Cup is the key event on the Canadian racing calendar. If you made it Canada-only, the purse would steadily decrease and the race would become another Gold final. FYI in the final of the 2018 North America Cup nine of the 10 finalists were trained and bred in the USA. In the consolation six of 10 were trained in Canada, yet eight were born in the USA.

Nick Salvi asks: You have been on a roll handicapping this year what are your thoughts on the upcoming Crawford Farms Meadowlands Pace?

To begin with, I have no intention of taking over for your friend Toby, I have simply had a hot streak. Call it beginner’s luck. Eliminating the normal handicapping figures for the moment, let’s take into consideration there are two supplemental entries. That tells me there are two very talented horses that the owners are willing to plunk down a very substantial chunk of cash ($62,500) to enter the fray. Therefore, if I were a gambler, I would certainly consider the merits of those two before looking any further. In purely financial terms, these two finishing third would be the break even point.


IDEAL FEELING — One win in 2018, a nw at Tioga Downs for $6,000? Cannot recommend.

HAYDEN HANOVER — 0-for-5 in 2018. Has some nice lines when he draws inside and great connections, need everything to go his way.

THIS IS THE PLAN — Decent sort, for me not fast enough.

CAPTAIN DEO — Dropped from also ran in the NA Cup to be beaten by 4 in Nw3. Colt has ability, but lacks early speed, a necessity here.

NUTCRACKER SUITE — I like the ballet and the horse. He has been an over achiever of late. Love his last beaten a head at 29-1 in the Hempt. Will be knocking at the door.

STAY HUNGRY — Hasn’t raced badly, just driven like he was the best, as he was last year, but unfortunately isn’t this year. The competition has closed the gap in his sophomore campaign, but with a decent trip he is the best here.

THINKBIG DREAMBIG — Cheap races, but a great looking card. Four for five in 2018. Will have a new driver and could be close at the finish.


AMERICAN HISTORY — Great trainer/driver combo, but hasn’t won an open stake. Looks to be on the improve, but not ready for these yet.

COURTLY CHOICE — Won the consolation of the Hempt off ridiculous fractions. Decent card but this supplement is a reach. If he was by SBSW I would be more affectionate, but can’t jump on an Art Major in 2018.

JIMMY FREIGHT — Great card. Raced amazingly well against aged horses in the Gold Cup. Loves to win — 12-for-19 lifetime and 5-for-7 this year. Beat some nice colts in the SBSW. Colt ships to Andrew Harris who will not miss a thing. Adriano cashes on a good investment.

FASHION ON THE BEACH — Jules inducted in the Hall of Fame and won the Beal for $500K. This entry comes with a prayer. Way too cheap.

BABES DIG ME — Decent colt. Check getter. 2-for-15 lifetime hasn’t won in twp months, not winning here.

ODDS ON LAUDERDALE — Another 2-for-16 lifetime. Both wins nw2. Looking for a check. I never had game owners like this when I was training.

GRAND TETON — 0-for-5 this year, but has drawn poorly of late. Has no early speed that hurts. Won $160,000 and paced 1:51 at two. Must be better than recent. This is a weak field can get a piece.

DORSODURO HANOVER — Likely second choice in the betting. Burke/Kakaley formidable team. 4-for-6 this year. Only lost the Hempt by a length after a brutal :53 half. Will push Jimmy to the utmost.

Thanks to all my loyal readers for the continuing kind words. Please keep the questions coming in. Next week I will update the picks for the Pace final and will give some insight on the upcoming Hambletonian and the Miller. Have a wonderful week.

Have a question for The Guru? Email him at

Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Harness Racing Update