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Thoroughbred trainer Willie Armata was ecstatic, but also concerned, after his two-year-old colt Ironstone captured Friday’s $ 150,000 Clarendon Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack for six lengths.

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Worried?

“Because he was running so fast, I was worried that the police would be waiting for us in the tunnel and would give him a speeding ticket,” Armata said with a laugh.

Ironstone has been one of the good stories at the Etobicoke Oval this fall. Bought in 2020 for a modest $ 5,365, Mr Speaker’s son has created quite a stir at Woodbine.

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Before winning the 5½ furlongs Clarendon on Friday, Ironstone won the 6½ furlongs Simcoe Stakes on August 29 by 8½ lengths, marking consecutive victories for Armata, jockey Ademar Santos and owners Tequesta Racing and Jupiter Leasing.

As Armata chatted with the Toronto Sun just inside the west entrance at Woodbine on Saturday morning, several horses passed by and offered their congratulations.

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For Armata, owning a horse like Ironstone is a dream come true. The Malton native has been training at Woodbine since 2007, establishing himself as a hard-working coach, but no big stars. Armata’s last win before Ironstone won the Simcoe this year was when Bold Corky captured the Classy ‘n Smart Stakes in 2008.

So it’s been a long time coming and Armata is on top of the world. And well, it should be. After 14 years of fighting and trying to make a living at Canada’s best thoroughbred track, Armata finally has a horse that is turning heads and more importantly making a lot of money.

Ironstone has already bagged close to $ 200,000 this year and good things are expected in its three-year season next year.

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“I have been training many of those who claim the fund for several years. And I don’t mind training the bottom claimers, but it’s a different game when you have a really good horse, ”Armata said. “It kind of puts you on the map and advertises you for some potential new owners down the road.

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“I am still young in the business. I am 39 years old and I still hope to be a great coach here, like Kevin Attard. Hats off to Kevin Attard, he has a lot of horses, he’s very successful and he works hard, ”Armata continued. “I hope to one day arrive like him.”

Like Attard, Armata was born into the racing game. His father Vito is a top-tier coach at Woodbine with career earnings of $ 19,327,175 and 759 wins.

“When he finished high school, it wasn’t college or university for me,” Armata said. “It was 555 Rexdale Blvd.”

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Which, of course, is the Woodbine Racetrack address.

The highlight of his father’s career was winning the 2002 Queen’s Plate with TJ’s Lucky Moon at 80-1. Willie remembers seeing that backstretch kitchen run and how excited he was. Winning the most prestigious horse race in Canada, like his father, would be a lifelong dream come true for Armata. And that’s a real possibility now with Ironstone, although the gray colt has proven his class as a sprinter. The Queen’s Plate is traversed for 1 1/4 miles.

“We are pointing it out, but you know how it is. When you have a good sprinter and then you want him to lengthen, they are two different stories because the horse has to be able to establish itself to go that far, “said Armata. “I could be a contender for the Queen’s Plate, but I don’t want to get too excited about that. I’m going to enjoy what I have right now.

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“Next year we will start to focus on whether it will be a Silver horse or not. I’m just going to take small steps to get there. “

Armata has been asked if he is targeting Ironstone for the $ 250,000 Coronation Futurity, a 1 1/8 mile race for two-year-olds, on October 30 at Woodbine. Because of the length, that won’t happen, but the good-natured coach said Ironstone is likely to run the same day in the $ 125,000 Display Stakes, a seven-furlongs sprint.

“(Running 1 1/8 miles) wouldn’t be fair to him,” Armata said. “It’s a baby. And with babies you have to be very patient and take your time. Especially when you have a good one like him. “

Armata is having an overall good season at Woodbine this year, with seven wins, six second and four-thirds in 38 starts (heading into Saturday’s card), finishing with money 45% of the time, an impressive record led, of course, by Ironstone.

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“It’s great to have a horse like that,” Armata said. “It makes me nervous in the stomach.”

AROUND THE TRACK

Veteran trainer Debra Rombis was breathing a huge sigh of relief after her two-year-old Thatsitthatsall filly won the sixth race at Woodbine on Saturday, with Kirk Johnson in the saddle. The race marked the 22nd start for Rombis at the far west track this year, and he still had to win. But Thatsitthatsall, who had finished second in all three career starts this season (including two races on the line), beat Load Abroad by one head for the win … Woodbine’s head coach Mark Casse won five More races on Saturday, including the $ 100,000 Overskate Stakes for kids ages three and up with Not So Quiet, and he now has 80 wins on the season, 44 more than his closest rival Attard … Lead jockey Kazushi Kimura won three runs and now has 89 on the season, 34 more than Justin Stein in second place.

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