Hall of Famer Lou Guida has passed away in Florida at the age of 82 after suffering declining health. While Mr. Guida had been recently involved in harness racing in Italy, he began his career as owner and syndicator extraordinaire in the 1970's once the Meadowlands opened. Harness Racing Update provides a detailed obituary for him.
No doubt Mr.Guida changed the sport forever, some changes for the good, others had unintended consequences. While syndications were around beforehand, Guida certainly brought syndication to a higher level. The confluence of the opening of the Meadowlands and Guida's syndications changed the fabric of harness racing forever. Horses became commodities as wall-street types became involved in the sport. The balance sheet ruled. While it was good to bring new money into the business, a little bit of racing's soul was lost.
Who can forget the court battle over Niatross? Clint Galbraith and Elsie Berger wanted to continue racing the superstar pacer at age four but the syndication agreement indicated Guida would take control of the horse's management when he turned four. While unpopular, the court ruled in Guida's favor. Perhaps if anything, the Niatross situation heralded in a new era where trainers yielded control to the syndicator manager.
While one can debate whether Guida's moves were good for the sport (I would argue overall not), I believe the negative changes were unintentional. What can't be disputed was Guida was part of an exciting time for the sport. We could only wish the exciting times continued to this day.