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Bill O'Donnell New OHHA President

Bill-Odonnell.jpg

Published: January 12, 2009 1:15 pm ET

Last Comment: January 14, 2009 9:20 am ET | 42 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Bill O'Donnell confirmed with Trot Insider early this afternoon that he was nominated and has been voted in as the newest president of the Ontario Harness Horse Association at a full board meeting which was held today.

"I'm truly honoured," said O'Donnell, who confirmed that his presidency is effective immediately.

O'Donnell, who formerly held the title of OHHA's first vice president, replaces Jim Whelan as president.

In regard to the current stalemate in negotiations with the Woodbine Entertainment Group, O'Donnell said that he is going to touch base with WEG officials very soon.

"OHHA is open for negotiations any time," said O'Donnell. "I'm going to make it a priority today to contact either David Willmot, Jamie Martin or Bruce Murray today."

Later in the afternoon, OHHA sent out a release outlining the changes, including the updated OHHA executive committee list.

The release appears below in its entirety.


OHHA Board Elects Bill O’Donnell President

The OHHA Board of Directors met today, January 12, 2009, to elect the officers and executive committee for 2009. Hall of Famer Bill O’Donnell was elected president, replacing Jim Whelan.

O’Donnell thanked the board for its support and said: “We are at a very difficult time in the history of OHHA and horse racing in Ontario. Unity and peace will be my guiding principles as I move forward. My first priority is to bring unity and peace to the WEG racing contract.”

Outgoing president Whelan, who was nominated but declined, said: “I wish Bill all the best and told him he has my complete support. I ask all horsepeople, OHHA members and others, to rally behind Bill. At this time I believe that a leadership change is in the best interests of the industry. I have had a long run as President and look forward to racing horses and being with my family. I thank all the horsepeople and industry representatives for their support over the last nine years.”

Other members of the OHHA Executive Committee are:

First Vice President: Darryl MacArthur
Second Vice President: Peter Core
Treasurer: Colleen Belore
Kent Baker
Bill Bannon
Jennifer Duncan
Ken Hardy
Paul Lindsey

For further information please contact John Walzak at 1-866-774-6442 (toll free) or 905-854-6442 (Ext. 226), or by email at [email protected].

January 14, 2009 - 9:20 amI don't see OHAA making any

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I don't see OHAA making any impact without support from the big names at Woodbine.

January 13, 2009 - 8:04 pmCongratulations to Bill.

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Congratulations to Bill. Has he got a big job ahead of him - you bet. Now all you people who are out there thinking this is going to be the cure-all, are you going to the next meeting to hear for yourself what the real issues are or are you going to sit at home and wait till something is posted on this website and then complain that nothing has changed?

January 13, 2009 - 4:39 pmIt`s time to move on,whoever

RYAN (not verified) SAID...

It`s time to move on,whoever is in charge of OHHA must find out what the members and not just the executive really want and don`t want in any future negotiations with WEG. OHHA made a foolish decision asking trainers to boycott woodbine and an even greater mistake in writing to the MPP`S.I think most horseman are embaraced by these two errors and want to draw a line under mater.Best of luck,Bill O`Donnel

January 13, 2009 - 3:50 pmTo Mr. Anonymous hiding

John G. (not verified) SAID...

To Mr. Anonymous hiding behind your computer. The only way to negotiate a contract is to have one voice. WEG has already stated that they are dealing with very many individual contractors attached to the access agreement. If you were paying attention the boycott was called for one day to show unity which as we all know did not happen. My only point is that it would be the most efficient negotiating with one body such as OHHA rather that very many individual contractors. This will lay the groundwork for the rest of the province. Look to Quebec to the east, Alberta to the west and Florida to the south to see what happens when horsemen are fragmented. How do we get back to the negotiating table?

And again, please identify yourself if you plan to comment any further or your comments are meaningless.

January 13, 2009 - 3:29 pmThe Standardbred Horse

SHOP Board of Directors (not verified) SAID...

The Standardbred Horse Owners Panel (SHOP) congratulates Bill O'Donnell on his appointment as the new President of OHHA.

January 13, 2009 - 3:13 pmTo Mr. John G. In a time of

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

To Mr. John G. In a time of need, OHAA requested trainers to boycott the entry box...really smart move. Just look how long it took Major League Baseball to bounce back from their strike...I don't think Horse Racing has that much time to waste away.

January 13, 2009 - 2:20 pm"Thank Jimmy Whelan for a

John G (not verified) SAID...

"Thank Jimmy Whelan for a job well done". To Mr. Anonymous who commented at 11:02 am hiding behind your computer. Try attending a meeting and deal with the issues face to face. Like someone earlier said if you have a negative comment put your name to it. Just look to the OHHA sight to see the list of meetings that Jimmy attended as President in 2007 and 2008, it is on the website. Again thanks Jimmy and I know you will support Bill 110 % as President. As you said you can look forward to spending time with your family and racing horses which is great.

Thanks Again

John G.

January 13, 2009 - 12:46 pmGood luck and

Brenda (not verified) SAID...

Good luck and Congratulations to Bill O'Donnell. I beleive that Bill's years of experience along with his sense of humour, common sense and willingness to to work with people will go along way in negotiations with WEG and all horsepeople. I know he carrys alot of respect by many people in this business. Hopefully together, WEG and horsepeople can reach a mutual agreement and we can all enjoy a great future in this wonderful sport.

January 13, 2009 - 12:01 pmJust a

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Just a thought.....

Congratulations Bill, but does anyone really believe there is a real change at OHHA?
Does anyone really believe that WEG will now negotiate with OHHA just because Bill went from vice president to president?
As vice president, both WEG and members will want to know if Bill had a say in the letter sent to the Government and if so, did he agree with it?
With the handle up, full fields and competitive racing, why would anyone expect WEG to re-open contract talks with OHHA just because a new president is introduced?
It may take a bigger change at OHHA's executive level to prove there is a new mind set at OHHA and a possibility of re-opening talks.
Either way, good luck to all involved.......

January 13, 2009 - 11:02 amGot to laugh at the comment

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Got to laugh at the comment about Jim did a great job, really? Maybe to the small "click" that surrounded him? Did he once think of the owners, trainer (besides the few in the click), groom, and most importantly, the FANS?

January 13, 2009 - 9:44 amIf nothing else, the

Anne (not verified) SAID...

If nothing else, the meetings should be fun :)

January 13, 2009 - 6:27 amWho cares? What difference

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Who cares? What difference can he make? They need to dump the paid staff. This is an organization that has outlived its usefullness to the horsemen.

January 13, 2009 - 2:37 amFIRST LET ME SAY THAT I

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

FIRST LET ME SAY THAT I BELIEVE THAT THIS MOVE IS ONE OF THE WORST IVE EVER SEEN. nOW YOU HAVE A RACETRACK TELLING YOU WHO THEY WILL DEAL WITH. BILLY O DONNELL NEED NO INTRO . EVERYONE KNOWS HIS MARK HE MADE IN THIS SPORT.
THE FACT THAT MABE A CHNGE HAD TO BE MADE WITH OHHA CAN EITHER BE GOOD OR BAD , BUT THE WAY THIS BOARD TREATED THIS GREAT LEADER WHO ATTENDED ALL FUNTCIONSAND SPOKE ON DEFENDING HORSEMANS RIGHTS WAS ONE OF THE WORST IVE SEEN IN MY 30 PLUS YEARS IN THE GAME. I HOPE THAT BILLY KEEPS HIS NUMBER ON HIM FOREVER I THINK HE WILL NEED IT. HARNESS RACING IS NOT AS GOOD AS IT WAS YESTERDAY. I HOPE THAT ALL YOU HORSEMAN IN CANADA STOP FOR A MOMENT AND THANK JIM FOR ALL THE HARD WORK HE DID .

January 13, 2009 - 1:25 amTo the bettor, I agree fully

sd (not verified) SAID...

To the bettor,

I agree fully with your remark. As an owner, the integrity of this sport means everything. I also feel more changes are needed at OHHA and not just Mr. Whelen. The angry people who have posted ( some of which being the OHHA supporters)are more worried about the anonymous poster rather then the important issues at hand.They seem to be a bunch of angry people who did not get their own way, calling a boycott and WEG refusal to negotiate with them.
The things they should worry about if they really did care about the horse industry are honesty,intigrity and how to attract new fans to come watch , bet and invest in our industry.NOT who signed their name on this comment area.

As far as Bill O, he is respected in the industry as a trainer,driver and owner and hopefully will have the skills to communicate with WEG and the other race tracks to better the product and find ways working with them to grow the business.That to me is what is important and has been lacking.

Good luck to him on this appointment and maybe take some advise...Work with all those who are involved in this industry:trainers, drivers,owners,bettors,race track owners,and fans from all generations and find ways to improve for the betterment of all concerned.Do not just rely on the current generation to assist in the decissions to be made as we need to build a future base as well.

January 12, 2009 - 10:07 pmTo Jrich at 7:17 The only

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

To Jrich at 7:17

The only way Mr. O'Donnell's appointment will be beneficail is if, and only if, Mr. Whelan's association with the OHHA is completely severed. That's right, no directorship, no roving ambassador, no nothing, for Mr. Whelan. Then Mr. O'Donnell's appt might actually mean something. Otherwise it remains an illusion.

Furthermore, addressing your sarcastic remarks, I've never bet a super in my life, I just grind it out on w/p bets. By the way, my bets average $20,000/mo, which is probably what you bet in a year. I must remain anonymous, as racing is my biggest source of income.

Clearly, for anyone in my category, integrity is the #1 and only priority. And that's why I support WEG, and hope their principle prevails.

January 12, 2009 - 9:31 pmgood luck billy you have a

MILT (not verified) SAID...

good luck billy you have a hard task a head of you but you know that OHHA has bought harness racing to where it is today. horsemen must control there own future. most HORSEMEN ARE WHIT YOU ALL THE BEST

January 12, 2009 - 8:15 pmDon't Hide! If you wish to

Gavin Christie (not verified) SAID...

Don't Hide!

If you wish to criticize someone's efforts (past/present OHHA members), proper etiquette requires you to enter your full name in the "your name" field.

Good luck to OHHA's new president and thank you to our past ones.

January 12, 2009 - 8:13 pmI am hopeful Hopefully this

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I am hopeful

Hopefully this will result in leadership that doesn't go looking for a fight where there is no fight to be had.

January 12, 2009 - 7:30 pmGood luck Bill,Hopefully WEG

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Good luck Bill,Hopefully WEG will get a contrat with OHHA so they can continue to support grooms with there benefits.This is turly a must.

January 12, 2009 - 7:26 pmWEG will hold steadfast.

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

WEG will hold steadfast. The big chore first off is to try and explain to people that OHHA is NOT protecting the cheaters. Then go to the Labour Board and make membership mandatory since so many outsiders are coming in and dont really care - THEN get the troops together and be prepared or a boycott!

January 12, 2009 - 7:17 pmDear $2 bettor. It is

jrich (not verified) SAID...

Dear $2 bettor. It is people like you that always hangs a dark cloud over the best of days. 90% chance that it is going to be a bright future for the relationship with OHHA and WEG. Please keep living with your 10% chance of rain and keep betting your $1 supers and keep thinking that you are a big bettor. The glass is more than half full always.

January 12, 2009 - 7:01 pmAFTER READING S.C. GUIDLINES

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

AFTER READING S.C. GUIDLINES TO COMMENT...I GUESS I CAN JUST WISH YOU LUK MR. O"DONNELL

January 12, 2009 - 6:31 pmUnfortunately this is what

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Unfortunately this is what had to happen, or a new organization had to take over leadership of the horsemen. Hopefully it is for the betterment of harness racing.

I hope a new direction will be taken by OHHA for the good of everyone, all stakeholders, involved in the industry.

It is not horsemen vrs management anymore. The mandate of both OHHA and racetrack management, when the OLG agreement was signed for slot revenue, was to work and improve the industry. This effectively set up OHHA and track managements into a partnership. When the current agreement with OLG comes to an end, your record will be reviewed and you will be held accountable for what you have or have not accomplished. What you have done and what you have accomplished will go a long way to determine if the slot money will continue to be allotted to support harness racing. To date OHHA have only looked after themselves. This has to change or the slot money will not be forthcoming when this comes up for renewal.

Good luck Bill

A long time owner, trainer and former driver.

January 12, 2009 - 5:38 pmIt's about time,we have a

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

It's about time,we have a change,what we need is leadership ,not what we had dictatorship.
Good luck magic man

January 12, 2009 - 5:29 pmThanks to Jimmy Whelan. You

John (not verified) SAID...

Thanks to Jimmy Whelan. You did a great job when the industry needed a strong leader. It is scary to think were we would have been without your leadership. This stuff does not happen on its own and your vision has been great for our racing game. You are a great horseman as your father Basil was before you and your brothers Walter and Gerard are.

Thanks

To Billy, congratulations. I am sure that Jim will stand behind you 110 %.
We need strong leaders in these times.
The negotiations with WEG may shape the rest of the province which I am sure all of you at OHHA are mindful of.

Good luck and good racing

January 12, 2009 - 5:07 pmA very big congratulations

Lynne Magee (not verified) SAID...

A very big congratulations to Mr. O'Donnell. I have met this gentleman only a few times over the past eight or so years. It has always been obvious just how much people respect and like him. The general consensus is that he will be able to negotiate with WEG and other tracks as required while keeping the welfare of the membership in the forefront. It is time to move on and get this industry back on its feet where it belongs!

January 12, 2009 - 4:00 pmSOME TIMES CHANGE IS BAD,

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

SOME TIMES CHANGE IS BAD, BUT IN THIS CASE IT HAD TO HAPPEN AND AN EXCELLENT CHOICE AS WELL. MY PREDICTION IS OHHA IS IN BETTER HANDS STARTING IMMEDIATELY AND WILL NOW FIND COMMON GROUND WITH WEGS AND THEIR NEGOTIATIONS. FRESH FACE WITH NEW OUTLOOKS INSTEAD OF BEING STUCK IN A RUTT. THE TWO SIDES WILL HAVE A CONTRACT IN PLACE SHORTLY.

January 12, 2009 - 3:55 pmThis appointment is pure

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

This appointment is pure window dressing and changes nothing!

Hope WEG maintains its principles.

I'm a realtively large bettor, who abandoned harness racing last year, due to a perceived lack of integrity. Only way I (and probably many others) will come back to betting harness is if WEG is able to implement its agenda.

January 12, 2009 - 3:47 pmI would like to thank Mr.

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

I would like to thank Mr. Jimmy Whelan for all the years he has devoted as President of OHHA. Jimmy, rest assured that you have made a huge difference here in the province of Ontario. Thanks a million times over. You are one of the most respected horsemen in all of North America.

January 12, 2009 - 3:42 pmCogratulations Bill.

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Cogratulations Bill. Hopefully this is just what we needed. He has his work cut-out for him.

January 12, 2009 - 3:28 pmOHHA has dug itself a deep

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

OHHA has dug itself a deep hole. Let's see if Billy can talk them out of it.

January 12, 2009 - 3:28 pmCongrats to Bill, it will be

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Congrats to Bill, it will be interesting to see if this will bring WEG back to the table.

January 12, 2009 - 3:24 pmBill; You just drew the 10

Doug McIntosh (not verified) SAID...

Bill;

You just drew the 10 hole in a tough race. You always had the ability to make the best of what you have to work with. Now is no different.
Now you know what Obama feels like.

Good common sense. The rest is easy.

Good luck friend.

D Mac

January 12, 2009 - 2:57 pmCongrats Will! This is where

Gord Brown (not verified) SAID...

Congrats Will!
This is where you should have been a few years ago. Let the magic begin.
All the best,
Gord Brown

January 12, 2009 - 2:57 pmGreat move by OHHA....they

Dan (not verified) SAID...

Great move by OHHA....they could use a little 'Magic.'

January 12, 2009 - 2:45 pmGreat choice! Is Whelan

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Great choice! Is Whelan totally out of it now?

January 12, 2009 - 2:26 pmCongratulations Mr

Kathy Bauman (not verified) SAID...

Congratulations Mr President.

This is some promising news coming out of OHHA.

Bill has a big job ahead of him.

Good luck.

January 12, 2009 - 1:50 pmgo magic man!

lil ralph (not verified) SAID...

go magic man!

January 12, 2009 - 1:38 pmcongrats to bill-maybe this

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

congrats to bill-maybe this is just what we need for the current situation--a " MAGIC MAN" good luck bill

January 12, 2009 - 1:37 pmCongradulations to Bill.

Paul (not verified) SAID...

Congradulations to Bill. There will be sufficient challenges ahead for you in the new year but we are confident that you will tackle them head on. OHHA has done many good things for the horsepeople in Ontario and we hope they continue to do so and that you can bring back unity and harmony.

January 12, 2009 - 1:33 pmWell, well, well. I wonder

Anonymous (not verified) SAID...

Well, well, well. I wonder if this is going to change things with WEG and the negoatiations. Will be interesting to see what is next???

January 12, 2009 - 1:29 pmCongrats Bill!

jrich (not verified) SAID...

Congrats Bill!


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