Starting off the 2019 season with two winners opening weekend meant so much to trainer Ross Armata Jr.. For him it was testament that the hard work and dedication he puts in to his public racing stable does pay off.
Ross may have been born into the industry but he has certainly earned his stay as he closes in on two decades as a trainer at Woodbine, one of North America’s most competitive racetracks.
The junior Ross is son to Ross Armata, a successful trainer who was a force to be reckoned with throughout the late 1990’s and the first half of the 2000’s. With stakes horses such as Barbeau Ruckus, Shot Gun Ela and Great Defender sharing the shed row of what was mainly a successful claiming stable, this was also the fertile learning grounds for Ross Jr.
Ross Armata Jr. was eight years old when he began walking hots for his father. He was grooming horses full-time during the summer months by the age of 12.
Ross felt that because of his age and being the son of the trainer of a big outfit he constantly needed to prove to the older men at the barn that he could do the job and do it well.
Throughout his childhood Ross was a high level hockey player, eventually skating with the likes of Eric Lindros and Chris Draper. At the end of high school Ross was faced with the decision to play hockey professionally in Europe or work in the family business at the racetrack. The excitement of the racetrack and the lure of the horses won out.
Ross became his Dad’s Assistant for 5 years and working with horses in the claiming ranks provided the would be trainer with plenty of opportunity to find solutions and different training styles for horses that were far from being perfect.
“When you are young and working in a large outfit you are exposed to a slew of injuries you may not necessarily see in a smaller barn.” said Ross, “You learn a lot very quickly.”
Ross Jr. officially became a trainer himself in 2000 and in 2003 began training privately for his Uncle Vito’s former owner Molinaro Stable. Right out of the gate, Ross Armata Jr. won two for his new owner with Secret Rush and Storming On Merit winning opening weekend at Woodbine, March 22, 2013.
One of the top Molinaro horses Ross Jr. trained was Expected Song, a winner of 7 races with 3 seconds and 5 thirds in 23 starts and earnings of more than $350,000. She continued to win for Ross Jr. and new owner C.E.C. Farms in 2005 after Molinaro Stable dispersed at the end of 2004.
Ross has steadily progressed throughout his career and with an anticipated 16 horses in his public training stable this year he is as dedicated and hard working as he has always been.
“My hands touch every one of my horses everyday.” stated Ross with obvious pride, “I still do up all of my horses everyday.”
Ross Jr. will also come back to the barn each afternoon to feed and observe his horses, “I like to see my horses and their demeanour at feed time in the afternoon.” Ross states with this explanation,” When they are snorting and nickering for their food then you know that we are going in the right direction with that horse. If they are not interested then something is amiss.”
A family man with two teenage daughters with his wife of 21 years, Michelle, Ross Jr. is also wanting to share his passion for horseracing by offering a chance for new owners to get into the business.
This year Ross Jr. will be investing his own money to buy a horse for a new syndicate where people can purchase a share in the horse for $5000 total for the season. He is hoping to claim a horse at the $25,000 – $50,000 level by July so shareholders can enjoy opportunities to race for the remaining six months of the season and all being well have the horse’s earnings extend into racing for the off season or into next year.
“I am the type of trainer who provides open communication with all of my owners.” stated Ross explaining that the syndicate will be no exception. “Every shareholder will have an opportunity to provide their opinion, learn about the sport and have fun.”
The syndicate is on its way with share holders already buying in. Ross hopes that more will join in on the excitement of owning a racehorse this year. “As an owner you can bring your kids and family to cheer on your horse at the races and then come back to the barn and feed your horse mints and carrots. It’s an amazing experience for owners.”
For more information about this syndicate or other racehorse ownership options contact the HBPA’s Ownership Specialist Stacie Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-230-5190