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Unconventional Intro To Racing


Published: November 11, 2011 1:30 pm ET

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Everyone in harness racing has a story on how they became involved in the business. Some involve family, some involve friends, some involve the love of the animal.

A commercial real estate broker by trade, Trot Canada National Handicapping Championship contestant John Ruffo got into racing in a rather unconventional manner.

"My buddy broke up with his girlfriend and he decided to go the track and be a groom," Ruffo told Trot Radio's Norm Borg. "A year later, he calls me and says 'John, I need $1,200 to buy a horse'. I was fresh out of school, I said 'OK, go ahead' and that's how I got in the horse business."

That was some 40 years ago, and Ruffo is still in the game breeding, owning and betting on horses. Ruffo was the final qualifier for the 2011 TCNHC going six-for-eight in the Cross Canada Online Challenge. Ruffo's handicapping skills have been finely honed over that time, including one massive payday back when Greenwood hosted live harness racing in the 1980s.

"Back in the Greenwood days, me and three other guys had a Pick 6 and if I'm not mistaken it went for $115,000. And we only spent $24 each."

Like most horseplayers, Ruffo has his own formulas and favourite angles - one of which involves betting certain trotters in warm or cold weather based on pedigree. Could that play a factor into how Saturday's TCNHC shakes out? To listen to the full interview with Ruffo and Borg, click the play button below.

Episode 235 – TCNHC contestant John Ruffo
Audio Format: MP3 audio
Host: Norm Borg

This Saturday night, one lucky horseplayer will leave The Raceway at the Western Fair District with a cheque in the amount of $25,000 as a result of winning the 2011 edition of the Trot Canada National Handicapping Championship.

Thirty-four players representing thousands of fans that took part in over 50 qualifying events across the country, including online challenges and multi-leg events, will compete for the lucrative grand prize. The top five finishers in the TCNHC will receive prize money. The runner up will receive $1,000, third place will receive $500, fourth $250 and fifth place will get a $100 cheque.

Players will make $2 Win/Place wagers on 15 races between Georgian Downs, Western Fair and Woodbine Racetrack.

Please note that the opinions expressed in the featured interview are those of the participants and do not necessarily reflect Rideau Carleton Raceway and/or Standardbred Canada.

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