Cotolo: Gerald Longo scores 3,000th victory with his 'Omen'

Profile Picture: Frank Cotolo

January 11th, 2022

Veteran harness racing driver Gerald Longo won the 3,000th race of his career on New Year’s Day, 2022, at the current Cal-Expo harness meet in Sacramento, California.

As were many of his wins, the horse getting him to the mark, Major Omen, was owned, trained and driven by the 76-year-old Longo. 

His first win was recorded at an Ohio state fair in 1966.

From there he moved his tack to the West. It’s a feat in any horseman’s career to triple a thousand wins and Longo earned it the hard way, racing on circuits that have almost disappeared over the decades. 

The California circuit, for instance,  once raced harness meets held at Hollywood Park, Cal-Expo, Los Alamitos, Fairplex Park, Bay Meadows, Santa Anita and Del Mar. Cal-Expo is the sole surviving harness raceway in the Golden State. As harness racing remained in jeopardy in California as it struggled from track to track, Longo stayed a member wherever a horsemen community gathered to race.

Longo moved out of state when necessary and he won races on the Illinois circuit, at Balmoral and Maywood (both defunct), and continues to campaign horses at Running Aces in Minnesota and Oak Grove’s young harness track in Kentucky. 

A landmark year for the horseman was 1972. Longo drove horses that set two world records during a Hollywood Park meet. Other victories that season gave Longo the driving title over historic harness horseman Joe O’Brien. 

He has competed against many others among the sport’s prolific drivers, including Bob Farrington, Bill Haughton, John Campbell, Ron Pierce, Joe Anderson, Doug Ackerman, Stan Bayless, Joe Lighthill, Lew Williams, Del Miller, Dave Magee and Donald Busse. 

Article Image

TwinSpires harness writer Frank Cotolo (left) interviews Gerald Longo in the mid-1980s at Hollywood Park for Gambling Times magazine. (Photo courtesy of Frank Cotolo)