The purpose of the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association's Mentoring Program is to introduce prospective racehorse owners to the process and learn the ropes for a relatively cheap price
. The objective is for those owners to then be able to go out on their own afterward and become successful owners. Just a handful of years removed from the program, a pair of program alumni will have a horse racing for the lion's share of $1.5 million in Saturday's Pepsi North America Cup.
Jamie Trott of Orangeville, Ont. and Frank Aloise of Brampton, Ont. were part of the SBOA Mentoring Program's initial ventures, roughly five years ago. They now own NA Cup starter Piece Of The Rock together.
After mentally figuring out how to race while down at the Meadowlands Racetrack earlier this season, Piece Of The Rock was game on the lead in his 'Cup' elim last weekend. The career winner of two races and $95,169 in purses rolled on the engine through hot fractions which he cut in :25.4, :54.1 and 1:21.1. Fighting for the wire through the lane, the three-year-old Rocknroll Hanover gelding came home with a 28-second final quarter and would finish just one and a quarter lengths back in third, pacing his mile in 1:49.1.
Piece Of The Rock's game effort in the mile couldn't be more thrilling for Trott and Aloise, who now find themselves as players in a lucrative and internationally-watched event.
"The program is intended to teach new owners the ins and outs of ownership, and then have those owners take that new-found knowledge and run with it," SBOA Director Tammy McNiven Told Trot Insider. "To see Jamie and Frank be able to be in the position that they are now, just a few years removed from the program and to be starting a horse of their own in the North America Cup, is just incredible."
"I've always been a spectator, a fan, or a punter, if you will," Trott explained to Trot Insider. "I always knew that I was going to be an owner one day, money willing. I found out about the SBOA Mentoring Program through advertisements on the Standardbred Canada website, actually. After due diligence and whatnot, I was paired up with 10 others. That's where I met Tammy (McNiven) and Bob (trainer Bob Young).
"The program is great. It really broke down a lot of barriers into the ownership game for me," Trott said. "The program allows you to get in for a small piece and allows a regular guy to understand the business on the other side of the fence. The SBOA program breaks down the business and allows you to get to know the day-to-day aspect of owning a racehorse."
In terms of his relationship with McNiven, Young and Aloise, Trott said they seemed to click when it came to the horses. "Along with Bob and Tammy, Frank and I really bonded," he explained.
"It's quite exciting for us to see because that is what the program is meant to do," McNiven said about Trott and Aloise's shot at what is every owner's dream.
"It's just great to see," Young told Trot Insider. "Both of these guys love the business and they're both ecstatic."
Along with Trott and Aloise, Young owns a part of Piece Of The Rock. Brian Barton of Carlisle, Ont. is another that owns a piece of the horse.
Young also performs the training duties on Piece Of The Rock. He told Trot Insider that he got frustrated with his gelding earlier in the year while racing on the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit. Young promptly shipped his charge down to the Meadowlands, where the 'Big M's frenetic racing action sometimes provides a quick education to some horses.
"Sending him to the Meadowlands was the best thing for him because it really taught him that when he gets in behind that gate he is in there to go," Young said.
"Jamie really loves the ownership game and gets really excited," the trainer explained. "He gets right into it. Sometimes we have to tell him to relax a little bit. Frank stays more on an even keel with most of it, but people shouldn't let that fool them because he is right into it as well."
"I was there at Mohawk with a bunch of friends," Trott said about being at the Campbellville, Ont. track to watch Piece Of The Rock race in his elimination last weekend. "The adrenaline was crazy, but I can actually say that I was calmer than when I was watching him race in the New Jersey Classic. My Cup is over. Getting the horse to the Cup was the big one for me."
In terms of how Piece Of The Rock came out of his elim last weekend, Young said that he couldn't have been better. He also mentioned that the horse is very easy on himself and that the Mohawk Retention Barn does not seem to faze him whatsoever.
"He had a great week last week (leading up to his elim). His feed was completely empty the next morning and he was just lying down in his stall. He's really easy that way, no matter if it is in retention or wherever, he'll just get right down and relax. Nothing seems to bother him."