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Hall of Famer Lou Guida, 81, dies
Sunday, February 01, 2015 - from the Guida Family

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Jupiter, FL --- Harness racing icon and Hall of Fame member Louis P. Guida, 81, of Jupiter, Fla., died Jan. 30, 2015.

He joined Merrill Lynch as a broker in 1967 and retired as a Senior Resident Vice President, the first broker ever elevated to that executive position. After years in New York City as sales manager of the SD office, he took over the Lawrenceville, N.J., office in 1977. At the time it had 16 brokers and $2 million in gross revenues. Within six years, he transformed it into one of the larger complexes in the firm with five offices, 120 brokers and $30 million in gross revenues.

USTA photo
Louis P. Guida

After managing the merger of Caesar’s Palace and Lum’s, Mr. Guida embarked on what would become a second successful career while still with Merrill Lynch -- harness racing. While looking for a tax shelter, he invested his commission from the merger in a harness horse. Although he initially lost his entire investment, he was undeterred. It would be the last time that would happen.

He studied the sport, brought in new investors and forever changed harness racing using his business savvy and with the support of his loyal and capable employees, Joan Raymond, assistant of 27 years, and Michael Fuschini, now Paddock Judge at Freehold.

Mr. Guida’s horses dominated the sport here in the United States and abroad. He syndicated the famed Niatross, regarded by many as the greatest pacer in harness racing history, for $10 million. He purchased Mack Lobell for $17,000, later selling a three-quarter interest for $6 million. Other great names in his stable were Nihilator, Miss Easy, In The Pocket, Immortality and Jake And Elwood -- all millionaire winners.

Looking for new challenges, Mr. Guida expanded his stable, Guida America srl, into Italy with his trainer Jerry Riordan. Riordan had trained in the United States for Mr. Guida and moved his family to Italy where Mr. Guida established Guida America as a dominant presence.

Mr. Guida is the only American to campaign a stable in Europe. For more than 20 years, his horses, primarily homebreds, have won every major race in Europe. Lisa America, one of his homebreds and named for Riordan’s wife Lisa, is the richest female in Italian history and the third richest Italian trotter ever. Mr. Guida raced and won in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and France including the Oslo Grand Prix, Copenhagen Cup and the Elitlopp.

Speaking from Italy, his trainer Jerry Riordan said, “Lou was much admired in Europe. People here appreciated his accomplishments. Trotting here is a much bigger sport than in America. It was the appropriate stage for a guy like Lou.”

The man who some horse writers called the “Ali” of harness racing, Mr. Guida was Sports Eye’s Owner of the Decade in 1990 for his accomplishments in the 1980s. He was named to the Italian-American Hall of Fame in 1986 along with Mario Andretti. Harness Tracks of America bestowed its most prestigious award on him, the Messenger Award. In 1988, the USHWA honored him with the William Haughton Good Guy Award. Finally, in 2007, after being nominated for 15 years, Mr. Guida was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, a tribute long overdue for his extraordinary accomplishments.

A few statistics on Guida-owned horses: 21 millionaire winners; 20 Breeders Crowns wins; 14 divisional titles; five Horse of the Year titles; five Messenger Stake wins; four Little Brown Jug wins; four Meadowlands Pace wins; three Zweig Memorial wins; three Cane Pace wins; three Woodrow Wilson wins; three Tarport Hap wins; three Orsi Mangelli wins; two Hambletonian wins; two Hambletonian Oaks wins; two Kentucky Futurity wins; two Yonkers Trot wins; two World Trotting Derby wins; two Sweetheart Pace wins; one Pacing Triple Crown (in 1985, he again won all three races but with three different horses); one Elitlopp win; and one Italian Derby.

In addition to his love of harness racing, Mr. Guida and his partners were owners of Thoroughbred tracks Laurel and Pimlico. He bred and owned a number of Thoroughbreds with his longtime friend the late Dr. Phil McCarthy.

For a short time, he owned the Philadelphia Eagles football team, then sold the team back to its former owner for a hefty profit saying later it was the dumbest decision he had ever made. He was also once a partner in a Vermont ski resort and the owner of a Trenton restaurant.

Mr. Guida, known for his innovative and often controversial remarks and methods, was asked how harness racing would remember him and he replied, “Probably not at all.”

For a man who made smart decisions his entire life, for once, he couldn’t have been more wrong. Arguably the most influential owner in harness racing history, Louis Guida brought Wall Street sophistication to a staid and conservative sport. In addition to being an astute businessman, he was a kind and generous man who impacted so many lives within harness racing and beyond.

Mr. Guida leaves his wife, Rose DeMara Guida formerly from Hazleton, Pa. Rose was actively involved in the family’s racing business along with daughters Jayme (David) Marad and Cindy (Mark) DeLeo. His son Mark (Sharon) Guida followed in his father’s footsteps as a successful broker with Merrill Lynch. He also leaves six grandchildren, Alexandra, Madisyn DeLeo, Gabriella Marad, Christina Marad, Dane Capogna, and Dylan Capogna; and many nieces and nephews whom he cared for deeply.

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