Hall of Fame

 



ron gurfein

Year of Induction: 
2006
Year of Birth: 
1940
DriverTrainer: 
Yes
Driver: 
Yes
Election Into Living Hall of Fame: 
2005
Biography: 

Ron Gurfein was born in New York City in 1940. Training Standardbreds is Ron's second successful career. His first was owner of a women's clothing company; however, in 1965, he sold the business. An owner of several racehorses, Gurfein at that time decided to try his hand at training them. His efforts began at Monticello Raceway. He remained there with moderate success until he transferred his racing stable to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where his six-year-old trotter Franconia, whom he owned and trained, set a world record of 1:55 for mares five years of age and older in July of 1987.

In 1990, Hall of Famer Phil Tully sent Gurfein his five-year-old trotting mare Kerry's Crown 5,1:55.1, $311,912. The following year Gurfein took the three-year-old trotting colt MB Felty 3,1:54.4 $390,246 to the winner's circle five out of sixteen starts, including winning an elimination of the Hambletonian and finishing second in the final.

The 1992 season provided Gurfein with the notable trio of Imperfection, Baltic Striker and Lady Starlet. Imperfection won 11 of 20 U.S. starts that year with earnings of $633,908. She was at her best when posting a 1:57f score in the $300,000 Breeders Crown. This victory gained her divisional honors as 1992 Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year. Imperfection also won the $191,000 American-National and a $44,000 division of the Coaching Club Trotting Oaks. In addition, she won her World Trotting Derby elimination in 1:58. She went on to finish second to Sierra Kosmos in the second heat and second to Alf Palema in the three-horse raceoff.

Baltic Striker, a three-year-old colt by Baltic Speed, posted six wins in 17 starts in 1992 with earnings of $413,932. He set a national season's record time of 1:55.4 in the $300,000 Breeders Crown at Pompano. Baltic Striker also took the $235,000 American-National, a $116,203 Simcoe division and a $48,000 Historic-Dickerson Cup split.

Lady Starlet, a freshman filly trotter, was an early season sensation in 1992, going unbeaten in eight starts before being sidelined by knee surgery. Her best moment came with a 1:59.2 score in the $376,000 Merrie Annabelle final at The Meadowlands. She also won a $52,500 division of the Historic-Acorn, bringing her total 1992 earnings to $249,900.

Gurfein made headlines in 1994 with Victory Dream and Beat The Wheel. The three-year-old trotting colt Victory Dream had nine wins in 17 outings that year with earnings of $992,662. His best moment was in the $1.2 million Hambletonian. Victory Dream won his elimination in 1:53.4 and then came back to capture the $1 million final in 1:54.1, besting Mr. Lavec by two and three-quarter lengths. Victory Dream was also the runner-up in three major stakes in 1994: the $650,000 World Trotting Derby, the $400,000 Cadillac Breeders Crown, and the $162,700 Kentucky Futurity final. In both the World Trotting Derby and the Kentucky Futurity, he finished second in a raceoff to Bullville Victory. At season's end Victory Dream was named Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt of the Year.

The four-year-old trotting mare Beat The Wheel had six wins in 16 starts in 1994, earning $84,535. She made harness racing history when she trotted a 1:51.4 mile at the Meadowlands. At the time it was the fastest trotting mile ever. She still holds the record for the fastest race mile of all time by a trotting mare. The following year Beat The Wheel posted five wins and earned $73,200. She added two season's records, going 1:53.1 at the Syracuse Mile and 1:56.3 at Pompano.

The 1995 and 1996 seasons saw Gurfein train the best horse of his career in the outstanding trotting filly Continentalvictory. As a freshman in 1995, the Valley Victory filly had 10 wins in 17 starts and in the process took $432,810 to the bank. Continentalvictory had a nine-race winning streak from mid-August to mid-November. Her most significant victory during that period came when she equaled the national season's record of 1:55.3, besting the field to win the $300,000 Cadillac Breeders Crown final. Continentalvictory also won divisions of the Kentucky Standardbred Sales Company, the International Stallion Stake, the American-National, and the Bluegrass as well as the Review Stakes and the first heat of the Hayes Memorial. At season's end she was named 1995 Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly of the Year in a landslide election. The following year, Continentalvictory captured two-thirds of the Trotting Triple Crown, winning the $334,700 Yonkers Trot in 1:56.2h, and the $1.2 million Cadillac Hambletonian, taking her $100,000 elimination in a stakes and world record time of 1:52.1 and the $1 million final in 1:52.4. Her bid for the Triple Crown ended when she was scratched from the Kentucky Futurity with a sore ankle. During that year she also picked up the $535,000 World Trotting Derby. Winning the second heat in a stakes record of 1:52.3, she then edged Kramer Boy in the raceoff. Her other major wins came against fillies in the $147,640 American- National and the $100,000 New Jersey Sires Stakes final. Her 1996 effort earned her Horse of the Year honors as well as Trotter of the Year and Three-Year-Old Filly Trotter of the Year.

Another great horse for Gurfein was Self Possessed. The Victory Dream colt had four wins in ten starts as a freshman in 1998, ringing up earnings of $281,170. He won the $125,400 American-National, a $118,960 Bluegrass division, and the $51,000 Hayes Memorial. His biggest payday came with a second place finish behind Starchip Entrprise in the $343,400 Valley Victory final. Self Possessed turned in one of the most impressive campaigns of recent years for a three-year-old. He recorded nine wins in 14 starts and bankrolled $1,065,220. He dominated his foes for most of the season and was at the top of his game in the $1 million Hambletonian final when he crushed Angus Hall by five-and-a-half lengths in a time of 1:51.3. This was the fastest race mile ever by a trotter. Self Possessed was also a straight heat winner in the $307,260 Kentucky Futurity, taking the first heat in 1:53 and equaling the stakes record with a 1:52.3 score in the second heat. In the $530,000 World Trotting Derby he won the first heat in 1:52 but finished second behind Enjoy Lavec in both the second heat and a two-horse raceoff. Other major wins for Self Possessed were the $170,000 American-National in a track record time of 1:53 and an $87,500 division of the Bluegrass. This outstanding campaign earned Self Possessed a 1999 Dan Patch Award as the top three-year-old trotting colt in the sport and propelled his trainer Ron Gurfein to the Glen Garnsey Trainer of the Year Award.

As a freshman Cantab Hall won for Gurfein in each of his ten starts while ringing up $461,337 in earnings. He was victorious in the $420,000 Breeders Crown final, the $150,000 American-National final, and a $113,000 International Stallion Stake division in 1:56.1, a time which earned him a share of the national season's record for a freshman trotting colt on a mile track. Cantab Hall also captured divisions of the Blue Grass, Review Stake, Hayes Memorial and Hanover Colt Stake. At season's end he became the first two-year-old ever to be named Trotter of the Year, while also earning a Dan Patch Award as the top two-year-old trotting colt in the sport. During his sophomore campaign in 2004, Cantab Hall hit the board in 11 of his 13 races with earnings of $980,966. He took the $250,000 American-National final, a $52,686 division of the Historic-Dickerson, and the Canadian Trotting Classic and the Stanley Dancer eliminations. Cantab Hall was second in the $1 million Hambletonian final, the $901,290 Canadian Trotting Classic final, both heats of the $530,000 World Trotting Derby, and the $391,200 Yonkers Trot. He also took third place money in the $500,000 Breeders Crown.

Other successful racehorses Gurfein conditioned include his current protege, and winner of the 2005 Merrie Annabelle and American-National, the three-year-old Muscles Yankee filly, Miss Wisconsin 2,1:56.3, $395,074; 1982 Adios Pace winner Higher Power; Beissinger Hanover; Sky Watch; Mr. Vic, and Vernon Blue Chip. During his noteworthy career Gurfein has trained seven world-record-holding horses (Franconia, Cayster, My Starlet, Imperfection, Beat The Wheel, Continentalvictory, and Self Possessed) and three Hambletonian winners, Victory Dream (1994), Continentalvictory (1996) and Self Possessed (1999). Among the owners for whom he has trained are eight Hall of Famers (Howard Beissinger, Hugh Andy Grant, Jr., Phil Tully, Mike Lachance, George Segal, Frank Antonacci, Guy Antonacci and Cat Manzi). As of June 8, 2006, trainer Ron Gurfein has 488 career wins and total earnings of $17.719 million.

Ronnie and his wife Susan Marie, who live in Delray Beach, Florida have two children, daughter Lauren Ashley and son Blake Taylor.