O’Donnell’s 22 top speedsters

O’Donnell’s 22 top speedsters

March 29, 2020

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by Bob Heyden

Bill O’Donnell became the first driver in Meadowlands history to drive 20 different horses to a 1:55 or better victory. In fact, he drove 22 horses to a sub-1:55 victory at the Big M.

1. Ironstone Fella – June 4 1981 1:55 $25,000 open

2. Midas Almahurst – July 10,1981 1:54.3 NW $15,000

3. Computer – July 10, 1981 1:54.1 Meadowlands Pace elimination

4. Genghis Khan – May 20, 1982 1:53.1 World Cup; June 17, 1982 1:52.4 Alfred E. Driscoll (Track record); June 24, 1982 1:54.3 Alfred E. Driscoll; July 1, 1982, 1:53.4 Driscoll final $164,000; July 9, 1982 1:53.4 invitational; July 16, 1982 1:54.2 invitational; July 24, 1982 1:53.4 invitational; Aug. 8, 1982 1:53 U S Pacing Championship; Aug. 13, 1982 1:51.4 world record invitational

5. Lemrac – June 18, 1982 1:54.3 4-5 YO open

6. Muckalee Strike – June 25, 1982 1:54.4 4-5 YO open

7. Bo Scots Fella – June 26,1982 1:54.2 NW $25,000

8. Hilarion – July 9, 1982 1:54.3 Meadowlands Pace elim

9. Lemrac – July 16, 1982 1:54 4-5 YO open

10. Cunning Bunny – May 23, 1983 1:54.4 NJSS $100,000; June 25, 1983 1:55 3YO filly pace

11. Slipstream – May 28, 1983 1:54.4 WO $15,000

12. Jamuga – May 28, 1983 1:55 Jersey Cup

13. Ivan Hanover – June 2, 1983 1:54.4 4 YO open

14. Kelly Lobell – June 9, 1983 1:54.4 Driscoll

15. Allwin Steady – June 24,1983 1:54.4 NJ Classic elim; July 1, 1983 1:54.4 NJ Classic final $537,000; Aug. 6, 1983 3YO open

16. Champagne Happy – July 2, 1983 1:55 NW $7,000

17. Elitist – July 8, 1983 1:54.3 NW $11,500

18. Native Hap – July 14, 1983 1:54.2 claiming $25,000

19. Impressive Lad – July 16, 1983 1:54.4 $20,000 claiming handicap

20. Raffi – July 16, 1983 1:54.2 3YO open

21. Savvy Almahurst – April 20, 1984 1:54.1 4YO open

22. Templar – May 5, 1984 1:55 NW $13,000

Wondering why he was called the Magic Man?

Four straight years O’Donnell drove to following pacing colts at age 2:
1984 — Nihilator winner of the richest contest ever, the $2,161,000 Woodrow Wilson.
1985 — Barberry Spur winner of the first of two million-dollar Governor’s Cups.
1986 — Redskin winner of the second of two million-dollar Governor’s Cups and still the single season richest 2-year-old ever regardless of gait 33 years later at $1.407 million in 1986 for owner trainer Jerry Smith.
1987 — Camtastic only he, Niatross and Captaintreacherous were freshman voted Pacer of the Year.

Talk about bad luck

How about Camtastic in 1987? He was the 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt of the Year and the Pacer of the Year in 1987. Despite the fact that he was scratched sick in the $1,422,000 Woodrow Wilson. That was the year they decided to go two weeks between the elim and final. Camtastic had won his elim by two and three quarter lengths in 1:55 on Aug. 1. Then, just to keep sharp, he won a qualifier on Aug. 7 going away. Then, with the extra week, he scratched sick from the final won by Even Odds. Bob Bencal trained the special colt for Bob Boni and Bill O’Donnell drove.

Slapstick made amends

From the first crop of B Gs Bunny, Slapstick entered the sport’s very first $2 million race — the 1980 Woodrow Wilson ($2,011,000) undefeated and the 4-5 betting choice for Jack Parker, Jr. and trainer Lee Broglio. He finished fifth. The race was won by Land Grant.

But when his first crop was ready to race, his son Grade One made the $1,344,000 final of the Wilson in 1985. Ray Remmen drove the elimination winner who was totally dismissed for the final at 49-1. He won it and paid $100.60 to win. That victory represented the largest ever win for Remmen during his Hall of Fame career.

How fitting

I came across a 1985 Liberty Bell program from their last year of operation. Carmine Fusco had been driving a horse there in July three times, including one win at 6-1 odds. The name? Tribute.

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