In an article on July 2 by the Guelph Mercury, Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO
David Willmot has made it abundantly clear that WEG will not sign a contract
with the Ontario Harness Horse Association. Bill O’Donnell, president of the
Central Ontario Standardbred Association, has also commented on the situation.
“I’m quite prepared to say that as things currently stand, the chances of WEG
having a contract with (the harness horse association) is zero,” Willmot was
quoted as saying. “In fact, more than that, we have no intention of interacting
with them or dealing with them.”
The most recent spat between WEG and OHHA has been a well-documented affair,
especially over the course of the last seven months. Horsemen have been racing
at WEG tracks (Woodbine and Mohawk Racetrack) ever since the prior contract
ended at the end of 2008.
O’Donnell, who took over the head role at OHHA for 99 days before stepping away
from the organization due to philosophical differences, is now leading the
fledgling COSA. The organization is gaining support among the local horsemen.
The Guelph Mercury report states that COSA has already signed up at least 300
“You have to work with these people (WEG),” the Guelph Mercury article quotes
O’Donnell as saying. “Why would you want to fight? Just stand down there at
Woodbine and Mohawk and look at the money they spend.”
O’Donnell went on to say that the WEG tracks play a crucial role in the Canadian
standardbred racing landscape. “If you don’t preserve WEG, none of the rest of
it means anything. [Harness racing in Canada] will go by the wayside, I think.
WEG’s our flagship.”