May 29, 2017

New SC Board Of Directors Announced

December 16, 2016 – As a result of Director nominations by the SC membership, 14 of the 15 seats on the SC Board of Directors were acclaimed. One seat was voted on by Standardbred Canada Active members in the Atlantic Region. Darren Crowe was elected by the Atlantic Active members to serve on the Board.

Following is a list of the 15 Directors that were acclaimed or elected by the membership. This Board will serve a three-year term from 2017 to 2019.

Please join the Standardbred Canada staff in welcoming the new Board of Directors and in thanking the Directors that will not be returning.

The first meeting of the new Board will take place on Thursday, January 26, 2017 in Mississauga, Ontario.

All Standardbred Canada members are invited to attend the Annual Meeting of Members on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The meeting will take place at 1:00 p.m. (EST) at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale (formerly the Delta Meadowvale Hotel) in Mississauga, Ontario.



Active Director
• Dr. Maurice Stewart

Breeder Director
• Diane Bertrand

Track Director
• Jackson Wittup


Active Director
• William O’Donnell
• Mark Horner

Breeder Director
• Joanne Colville
• Ann Straatman

Track Director
• Ian Fleming
• William McLinchey


Active Director
• Richard Veilleux

Breeder Director
• Alain Veilleux

Track Director
• Brian Paquet


Active Director
• Darren Crowe

Breeder Director
• Tony Zuethoff

Track Director
• Kent Oakes


New Ontario Racing Board

October 7, 2016 – On Friday, October 7, ‘Ontario Racing’ announced its new Board of Directors, and also announced that John Snobelen and Michael Keegan have resigned their positions with the organization.

Part of OR’s news item on the subject states that, ‘Ontario Racing expresses its appreciation for the hard work of Michael Keegan and John Snobelen. While both have resigned their positions as directors and are no longer connected to Ontario Racing, their service has laid the foundation for the success of the association.’

The news item explains that the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association has been acting in an advisory capacity to OR. Eight OHRIA directors now comprise Ontario Racing’s Board of Directors (on an interim basis). Those directors are Jim Lawson, Bill O’Donnell, Glenn Sikura, Walter Parkinson, Bob Broadstock, Bruce Barbour, Ted Clarke and Sue Leslie.

Additionally, the release states that as part of the transitional structure, a committee has been struck to create a new permanent governance structure that will be inclusive of industry interests and will be implemented in 2017. The governance committee will work collaboratively with external experts, including legal advisers, on creating a board structure, developing a code of conduct and creating bylaws.

The contents of the Ontario Racing announcement appear below.


Ontario Racing, the new industry association for horse racing in Ontario, is pleased to announce a new board of directors.

While the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association (OHRIA) has been acting in an advisory capacity to Ontario Racing, the following OHRIA directors now form the board of directors for Ontario Racing on an interim basis:

Sue Leslie
• Ontario Racing President & Secretary (Chair of the Board)
• President, Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA)

Bill O’Donnell
• President, Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA)

Glenn Sikura
• President, Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS)

Walter Parkinson
• President, Standardbred Breeders Ontario Association (SBOA)

Jim Lawson
• Chief Executive Officer, Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG)

Bruce Barbour
• Executive Director of Racing Operations, Flamboro Raceway (Great Canadian Gaming)

Ted Clarke
• General Manager, Grand River Raceway

Bob Broadstock
• President, Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc. (QROOI)

As part of the transitional structure, a committee has been struck to create a new permanent governance structure that will be inclusive of industry interests and will be implemented in 2017. This governance committee will work collaboratively with external experts, including legal advisers, on creating a board structure, developing a code of conduct and creating bylaws.

As this transition moves forward, Ontario Racing expresses its appreciation for the hard work of Michael Keegan and John Snobelen. While both have resigned their positions as directors and are no longer connected to Ontario Racing, their service has laid the foundation for the success of the association.

Once constituted, the board of directors will elect a new board chair and provide a strong industry perspective in representing the overall interests of the horse racing industry. The new directors represent a wealth of horse racing industry experience and knowledge that will position the association well to successfully tackle the challenging issues facing the industry.

Commitment to Transparency

A common critique of the horseracing industry in Ontario is that there is a lack of transparency and openness regarding decision making and funding. Ontario Racing is committed to doing things differently. To that end, we are sharing and posting on our website the breakdown of the Horse Racing Partnership Program (HRPP) funding, which is transferred from the provincial government to tracks that conduct live racing in Ontario. This information, found below, forms the beginning of what will be regular disclosures. As we move forward, this information will be found on a new section of the OR website and regularly distributed.

(With files from Ontario Racing)


New Owner Program Revived

There will be an extra buzz at Ontario racetracks this summer, as the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association renews the highly successful New Owner Mentoring Program.

For an investment of $4,500, nine people will have the unparalleled opportunity to be mentored by Hall of Fame horseman Bill O’Donnell and trainer Dustin Jones as they select an Ontario-sired yearling from the fall sales and train it through the winter in preparation for the 2016 racing season.

“We’ll educate them about the ground-up stuff, the grassroots stuff,” explains O’Donnell. “They might be fans that go to the races, but haven’t seen this side before.”

In addition to his years of expertise, O’Donnell will also contribute $4,500 to the partnership, and the SBOA will boost the group’s initial operating fund to $60,000 through a $15,000 forgivable loan.

“That will allow the group to buy their yearling — and it has to be an Ontario-sired yearling sold at an Ontario sale — and then the first year is covered for training and staking and whatever,” explains SBOA Vice President Tammy McNiven.

Horses from the first 11 new owner groups ranged from Grassroots performers to Gold Final winners, earning from $27,000 to $500,000, but one yearling did not make it to the races and McNiven emphasizes that there are no guarantees.

“It’s not something where we say you are going to get your money back,” she notes. “It’s a learning experience.”

Several graduates of the New Owner Mentoring Program have put their education to work purchasing additional racehorses or breeding stock, including Adriano Sorella. A part of the 2008 Ten Most Wanted Stable — whose M G Home Run earned $31,084 under the tutelage of trainer Casie Coleman and mentor Rick Kostoff — Sorella went on to co-own 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation.

“We have had some success stories over the years,” says McNiven. “We hope we can get people interested, get some new people involved.”

Detailed information and application forms for the 2015 New Owner Mentoring Program are available on the SBOA website (, or by contacting McNiven at 519-475-4276 or

(With files from SBOA)

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.