When the dust settled from the 2022 Fort Erie Thoroughbred season and the statistics were tabulated, there was a new name near the top of the trainer’s list. Roy Agostino, in his first full year of training, racked up 19 wins to be second to Julie Mathes, who was winning her third straight title. Roy put a tidy bow on what was a super year by winning two races at Woodbine including one with a new claim, Hardware Gap, on the last day of that tough meeting.
“I’m excited to get going again,” said the Welland, Ontario resident. “People have been calling me a lot to take horses for them to train.” And while Roy, who is 48, is late on the scene as a Thoroughbred trainer, there is plenty of horsemanship and experience in his back pocket, having trained Standardbreds for some 10 years.
Roy comes by his love for horses and racing honestly as his father, Dominic, enjoyed owning and training a Standardbred or two and his uncle Joe was also a trainer. A millwright, Dominic often had Roy with him when he was at the barn.
Roy jumped right into owning and training Standardbreds in the late 1990s, had success and then began a family in 2004. He left training for a while – he now has an 18-year-old daughter, Alexis – before the horses lured him back in. But this time, he was fascinated by Thoroughbreds.
In order to get his Thoroughbred trainer’s license, he had to put in five years working on the backstretch, so he worked with Josh Robillard, Joe Humber and Sharon Ceccato before passing his trainer’s test late in 2021. Roy saddled his first starter, Letting Loose, in October of 2021 and the gelding scampered away to a 5 1/2-length win in allowance company. Another claimed runner, the filly Crumlin Bird, was also a winner from Roy’s first 16 starters.
At the outset of 2022, Roy put together a stable of horses owned by the Even Steven Stable of Cathy and Rob Noyes, Michael Bellissimo, and his sister Mary Lynne. The wins came frequently and by the end of last year, one of his star pupils, Big Time Louie, was named the Male Claiming Horse of the Year at the Fort Erie awards. Big Time Louie was one of several winners for the Noyes’ Even Steven Stable, which launched in 2017.
“They are the parents of my good friend Brad,” said Roy. “Years ago, we always used to joke around about getting a horse and one day his Dad said they should do it.” The couple has built up a farm in Port Colbourne where Roy trains the horses in the winter. The Noyes’ grandson Owen worked for Agostino last year,
“They are great people,” said Roy. “They love the sport and every time one of their horses is running, they bring tons of family and friends.” Roy is excited about getting started in 2023, in particular since he has his first couple of two-year-olds learning their lessons. “I have sixteen horses ready to ship in [to Fort Erie],” said Roy. “I may run a couple at Woodbine to start. I’m just chomping at the bit, ready to go.” Based on the success he has had early in his Thoroughbred career, you can be sure Roy’s horses will be ready to go, too.