O'Donnell On Threats To Racing

Published: October 23, 2009 08:47 am EDT

On the heels of one of Trot Radio's most discussed interviews, Bill O'Donnell joins us to talk about his views on which of Jeff Gural's ideas will and won't work and

what he feels is one of the biggest threats to the survival of harness racing.

O'Donnell penned a letter to Trot Radio last week, and the text of that letter appears below.

I recently listened to the Norm Borg interview with Jeff Gural on TROT Radio. He makes a lot of good points and I agree that this business was built on heroes, namely great aged horses.

I, like Jeff, as a kid would also listen on the radio to the Saturday night feature race from Roosevelt and Yonkers i.e. the Cardigan Bay and Su Mac Lad days. Listening to these races caught my interest in horse racing along with the heroes of the day, Stanley Dancer, Bill Haughton and the Buddy Gilmour's of the racing business.

If we as an industry don't appoint someone as a guru, give up some of the power, or try something different, Jeff is right. The business as we know it today is doomed.

On a personal note, in 1982 at the Meadowlands we had a three horse non-betting race a half-hour before the first race to attempt to break the world's race record with Genghis Khan. There were 13,000 people there watching as fans. What does that tell you? You can't get 13,000 people now to a million dollar race, let alone an exhibition race.

P.S. There will always be standardbred horses, but I am not so sure there will always be racetracks to race these horses on. My uncle once told me that grass grew over racetracks before and if we don't do something about it, there will be grass growing over them again.

I think our biggest problem is that our bettors are taking their business to offshore betting places where the takeout is less and the internet offshore betting places take our racing signal from a satellite without putting anything back into our industry.

Another problem is that our racing does not offer bettors big enough pools i.e. the V75 in Sweden where their weekly pool can be upwards of $14 million dollars, being tied to some sort of lottery bet.


Bill O'Donnell

Episode 63 - O'Donnell On Sustaining The Business

Running Time: 9:35

Audio Format: MP3 audio

Host: Norm Borg