November 24, 2014

Last Minute Goshen Sub, O’Donnell Wins Hall Of Fame Trot

“You still got it, kid,” said John Campbell to Bill O’Donnell as the latter walked in to the winner’s circle after taking top spot (2:00.3) in the $10,000 Mr. and Mrs. Elbridge Gerry Memorial Trot for Hall of Fame drivers on Sunday at Goshen Historic Track.

The field of nine drivers, including the newest member of the Hall of Fame, Dick Stillings, competed, with O’Donnell driving Whatever Lolawants, crossing the wire after overtaking Wally Hennessey and Sweet Joe just past the three-quarters (1:28.2).

O’Donnell had the lead when the field turned for home and didn’t give it up. Whatever Lolawants is trained by Martin Noonan and owned by Noonan Harness Racing, Inc.

Stillings was second with Adonis B and Majestic Jo and Dave Palone were third.

“This [Goshen] is what racing was, lots of people at the races,” said O’Donnell. “They go because they’re fans, look at this grandstand today. This is fine; I’d like to race every race like this.”

O’Donnell was a late addition to the race, replacing Mike Lachance and he wore the colours of Ray Schnittker as his were at home.

“That’s why I quit driving in the first place, because they quit asking me,” he laughed.

“It was a bunch of old guys today, but this is a good mare. The trainer says she leaves good, she’s not very good once she gets to the front and when she went to the front she didn’t want to go, but she was better than them today.”

(Story Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications)


Anger Turns To Depression At The Racetrack –Toronto Sun

“…the lingering death sentence from Ontario’s Liberal government shows no sign of easing.” So observes columnist Rob Longley in The Toronto Sun about Ontario horse racing’s current precarious situation.

Read the full story here (including comments from COSA President Bill O’Donnell) — Rob Longley in The Toronto Sun

 

Halton Farm Tour Underlines Plight Of the Horse Industry To Politicians And Media

The 32nd Annual Halton Region Farm Tour on September 20th centred on the theme of “Horsepower in Halton”. More specifically, the event emphasized what the loss of the Slots at Racetracks Program will mean, and has already meant, to local members of the horse racing industry.

The Tour involved a busload of politicians and media seeing local farms and facilities firsthand, plus a visit to Mohawk Racetrack’s backstretch guided by Stable Area Superintendent Dana Keyes.

Dr. Bob Wright provided some convincing specifics when he delivered a presentation entitled, “The Economic Impact of Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry”

Another highlight of the afternoon included a panel moderated by Peter Lambrick, “Understanding the Economic Importance of a Thriving Equine Industry to Halton and the Province.”

Panel members included: Dr. Natalie Cote, Cofounder, Milton Equine Hospital, Milton, ON Jamie Martin, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG) Executive Vice-President of Racing Anna Meyers, President of Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association (SBOA) Bill O’Donnell, President of Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA) Joe Stutzman, Owner/Manager of First Line Training Centre, Milton, ON

Anna Meyers spoke with CHCH-TV during the tour and characterized the frustrating position of individuals and breeders as, “waiting and waiting and waiting for answers.” See that interview which took place at Sam-Son Farms by clicking here.

 

OHRIA Intent On Having Industry Plan Ready By July 1, COSA Tells Hamilton’s CHML Radio

 

OHRIA is aiming to table a new horse racing industry plan by July 1st to reinforce its negotiations with the Ontario government, COSA representatives told CHML Radio listeners on May 28th.

COSA President Bill O’Donnell and Director Jim Wellwood were guests on Hamilton’s popular Bill Kelly Show on AM 900. The pair of veteran horsemen capably presented racing’s side of the Slots at Racetracks argument in the call-in event hosted by Jamie West.

Listen to all four segments of the interview here:

Segment#1-Bill O’Donnell and Jim Wellwood CHML Radio

Segment #2-Bill O’Donnell and Jim Wellwood CHML Radio

Segment #3– Bill O’Donnell and Jim Wellwood CHML Radio

Segment #4– Bill O’Donnell and Jim Wellwood CHML Radio

The Harness Edge Interviews Bill O’Donnell

Harold Howe of The Harness Edge has posted a video interview with COSA President Bill O’Donnell about the future of Ontario horse racing. Check it out here.

Letter to All COSA Members:

 

Back in 1998, racing gave up its right to the exclusivity of legalized wagering in the province in order to participate in the revenue from slots machines installed at racetracks. As a result, purses soared, capital investments catapulted and horsepeople have been able to afford consumer purchases that have spurred their local economy.

Our share of the slots money has helped create a harness racing mecca that is envied all over North America. It has led our breeders to produce some of the finest standardbreds on the continent and to feel confident in both their horse and capital investments.

All this will be in jeopardy if the Liberal government takes the path suggested by the Drummond Report –installing slots in other locations, and either slashing or eliminating the slots money we’ve come to depend on.

Also, if slot money were to be eliminated, what would happen to the thousands of race horses in our province?

Since Finance Ministers Duncan’s announcement on Monday, February 13, 2012, your industry organizations have been working around the clock to deal with this issue both professionally and politically.

Already, The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA), of which COSA is a member, has hired a publicist who is hard at work getting our story out. You’ll see the effects of those efforts shortly.

But organizations can only do so much. We have to depend on you as horsepeople to contact your local politicians. They need to hear your individual stories– how this action will affect you, your family, your employees and your suppliers. Please have this conversation with them now.

By contacting your local MPP you could help educate them on the importance of this issue.Here’s a list of local MPPs and their contact info.

Don’t forget elected representatives in your local municipalities. Many communities have come to rely on slots revenue for maintaining infrastructure and new community initiatives.

The Liberal government and the opposition parties need to know just how many of us will be affected by their proposed changes. You can find statistical ammunition about the economic impact of racing here.

Decisions are being made this minute on the contents of the Ontario budget due out in late March.

The time to have an impact on the future of Ontario harness racing is NOW!

Your individual voice has never been so important.

–Bill O’Donnell
COSA President

 

COSA Annual General Meeting Shows Strong Financials, Membership at 1,555

 

 

COSA President Bill O'Donnell

COSA President Bill O'Donnell

 

 

Chaired by President Bill O’Donnell, the Central Ontario Standardbred Association’s Annual General Meeting took place at the Campbellville, ON Lions Hall on Wednesday night, November 2nd.

Deloitte & Touche representative Evan McDade kicked things off by presenting the organization’s financial statements as of June 30, 2011.

He pointed out and explained any major deviations from the previous year’s numbers, most notably the increase in grooms benefits, up over $100,000 to $317,031.

Overall, McDade said, the audit showed” great financial results” with an excess of revenue over expenses of approximately $50,000. As for the Balance Sheet, he complimented the Board on achieving “such a strong financial position” in only two years. “They have budgeted carefully and spent prudently,” he said.

“Financial responsibility has been very important to us, “Secretary-Treasurer Dave Drew told the group, and he praised the roles of office staff members Cathy Boughton and Stacey Newman in that regard.

In addition to O’Donnell and Drew, six other COSA directors were on hand for the AGM: John Bax, Joanne Colville, Paul MacDonell, Ben Wallace, Jim Wellwood and Bob Young.

The meeting re-appointed Deloitte & Touche as Auditor, and also approved by-law revisions that will change a quorum of directors from seven to five, and a quorum of voters from 15% of membership to 25 members.

In his President’s Remarks, O’Donnell pointed out that COSA’s current membership is at 1,555 and that all COSA horse owners are covered by a $1Million liability policy when racing at any Canadian track. He also outlined the comprehensive Health Benefits package which is an optional member benefit.

Guaranteed Pick 4 Pools Help Handle

Wagering at WEG tracks is holding up well and the numbers have been reflected in purse increases. The Guaranteed Pick 4, which COSA finances along with WEG, has especially helped the numbers, O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell also told the group that COSA has applied to have the Guaranteed Starter bonus of $300 last year at Woodbine increased to $350, this time with a 5% share each to trainers and drivers. The matter, he said, is awaiting ORC approval.

Aside from its dealings with WEG, O’Donnell pointed out that COSA has input on seven other industry committees. He also noted COSA’s sponsorship of the Road Horse Class at the Royal Winter Fair and its support of the Racetrack Chaplaincy program.

When the floor was opened to members for Other Business, a spokesperson for a small contingent of grooms present expressed appreciation for the COSA Benefits program, but questioned situations where “people are being asked to care for eight horses for $400 a week.”

Director Ben Wallace responded that while COSA sympathizes, they “can’t get between the employer and the employee.” He thanked the individuals for coming forward and expressed optimism that making the situation more public could help.

Purse Underpayment

Another question from the floor dealt with the Ontario Racing Commission’s Racing Program and the current overall purse underpayment.  O’Donnell responded that the purse underpayment at WEG is within this season’s normal range of $1.3 Million as of Oct. 31, 2011. He said WEG tracks do not have a Purse Cap as do other tracks in the province, although that had been initially proposed under the Plan.

Director Bob Young added that the Directors all race horses at other tracks than WEG and so are well aware of the underpayment situation. COSA’s mandate however, only concerns issues at Mohawk and Woodbine.

O’Donnell said the ORC is open to input on the Ontario Racing Plan and encouraged anyone with ideas for dealing with the purse underpayment situation to contact that organization.