Balmoral Park (2/8/12)
Contact: Tom Kelley
WELL TO DO GURU NAMED 2011 HORSE OF THE YEAR
Like a fine wine Marilyn and James Gorman’s Well To Do Guru just seems to get better with age.
|Well To Do Guru, who swept the Maywood Park Illinois bred Championship Series last year for owners James and Marilyn Gorman and trainer Terry Leonard, will be honored as the 2011 Illinois Horse of the Year on Friday at Maywood Park. Now an eight-year-old, the son of Richess Hanover-Guru’s Girl is being pointed for a mid-March comeback by his connections.|
On the heels of a remarkable 2011 campaign in which he posted a record of 13 wins, five seconds and three thirds in 26 starts while earning a career high $217,354, the gelded son of Richess Hanover-Guru’s Girl was voted 2011 Horse of the Year in Illinois by members of the United States Trotting Association in District 5. That honor will be bestowed upon his proud connections in a winner’s circle ceremony on Friday night at Maywood Park.
The ultra-consistent homebred finished up his seven-year-old season sporting career numbers of 32 victories, 30 second place finishes and 20 third place finishes with earnings of $550,766. Along with being a dominant force among the state-bred set here in Illinois, the pride of trainer Terry Leonard also proved that he can be equally tough in “open” company by knocking off several very strong Free For All fields during the 2011 season. In fact, his career equaling and 2011 best of 1:49.3 came in a win over the top class pacers at Balmoral Park on September 24 last year. His time of 1:50.3 at Maywood Park ties him for the fastest mile ever paced on a half-mile oval by an Illinois bred.
Handled throughout his highly successful 2011 season by driver Casey Leonard, Well To Do Guru captured such stakes as the inaugural edition of the Betzotic Stake in June at Maywood Park, the Cook County Stake at Maywood and the Lester Mc Keever Stake. A clean sweep of the Maywood Park Illinois Bred Championship Series also earned Well To Do Guru and his proud connections a $20,000 bonus.
Being handled like one of the family by everyone involved has helped keep Well To Do Guru as fresh early in the year as well as at the end of a tough season of battling the best at both tracks.
“Everyone involved with this horse from my dad Terry, his caretaker Teddy Pearson and the Gorman’s themselves just take such pride and good care of him,” said driver Casey Leonard. “It’s an absolute pleasure and an honor to now have my name associated with him as well and I feel he’s very deserving of an honor like this.”
Well To Do Guru was also a very important part of the healing process for Marilyn Gorman after she was diagnosed with cancer back in the early part of 2009.
“One of the things that kept me strong and kept me going through that time was knowing that I would get to see him race on a Friday or Saturday night,” said Marilyn. “I was too weak to go the track so Jim would drive me over to the OTB and we would arrive five minutes before he raced and be out of there five minutes after he raced. That was all I had the strength for at that time. I really believe that Guru was put here for a reason and that was it. I’m now a cancer survivor and cancer free and I really think this horse helped not only me but it also gave Jim a little diversion because he was right by my side every step of the way.”
After being turned out back in mid-December Well To Do Guru is now back in training and being prepped for what everyone hopes will be a big eight-year-old season.
“He was brought in from the field on January 19 and we’ve started training him down again,” explained Leonard. “If all goes as planned he’ll have a qualifier or two in a few weeks and then we’ll be looking at having him ready to go by sometime around mid-March. I’m sure we’ll pretty much go with the same schedule of not racing him for more than three weeks without getting him a week off and hopefully he’ll continue to perform the way he has for all us.”
For more information visit www.balmoralpark.com or call (708) 672-1414.
About Balmoral Park: Located in Crete, IL just 12 miles south of 80/94; Balmoral Park has been one of the nation's premier horse racing facilities since 1926. Balmoral Park features live racing every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission and parking is always free.