Day At The Track

Rossman enjoying new business venture

02:37 AM 15 May 2011 NZST
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Earls Miss Muffit
Earls Miss Muffit - A sophomore daughter of Earl Of Stormont
Photo by Linscott Photography

The Indiana harness racing industry is very appealing right now to new investors. Hank Rossman is one of those men who has followed an interest in the sport and turned it into a new business venture. A savvy businessman, Rossman is now a horse owner and is enjoying a new side to harness racing.

“I’ve been interested in harness and Thoroughbred racing for the past 15 years,” said Rossman. “Before Hoosier Park opened, I’d make an occasional trip to Churchill Downs or Arlington Park. But once racing got started here, I started getting more interested and more involved.”

Rossman’s first purchase was a trotter named Smokey Yankee with trainer Marlin Fry in 2008. He made his first trip to the winner’s circle as an owner that fall at Indiana Downs, and was hooked. The following year a partnership with trainer Mark Deaton emerged and the duo set out to purchase two yearlings at the Indiana sales, resulting in Earls Miss Muffit finding a home with Rossman.

“Mark had seen her older brother, Earl’s Glider, race as a two year old and saw a flash of brilliance,” said Rossman. “So, one of our options at the sale was his sister, Earls Miss Muffit.”

Earls Miss Muffit immediately showed promise and began her racing career at Indiana Downs late last summer in the Indiana Sires Stakes program. She earned two wins and five seconds in 11 starts and pulled in a second place finish in the $200,000 Indiana Sires Stakes Final. The season was completed with a bankroll of more than $100,000.

“The purses got better and that is what drew me into racing as an owner,” said Rossman. “Now, I have three Indiana sired trotters. I guess I got involved in trotters by accident. I became enamored by them and it just happened to work out that way to have all trotters, but I wouldn’t be opposed to buying a pacer.”

Heading into 2011, Rossman had hopes that Earls Miss Muffit would return to her previous year’s form. She proved that in her second start of the season, winning the first round of the $40,000 Indiana Sires Stakes May 6. The sophomore daughter of Earl Of Stormont will continue through the Sires Stakes process with her eye on the final night of racing, which offers a $200,000 final Saturday, July 16.

“Mark (Deaton) thought we had a pretty good horse,” said Rossman. “It’s a nice surprise to have her (Earls Miss Muffit) racing so well. I visit the barn occasionally and I try to learn what I can, but I leave the decision making up to Mark. With the purse structure the way it is, I’ve told a couple of the guys like Jim (Stonecipher) that this could be a good investment. That’s where we are at today.”

Racing under the stable name of Oval R Harness, Rossman’s success has also spurred other interest in ownership. Jim Stonecipher, who frequents the small group of racing enthusiasts around Rossman, also dove into the business last year and currently has several horses in Deaton’s care. His hopes are riding on three two-year-olds bought out of the sale last fall, including a pacing filly named Bluebird Jettart, who will hopefully follow the same steps as Earls Miss Muffit and head to Indiana Downs for stakes action.

Rossman’s daytime hours are spent at his business, Progressive Power and Control, located in Fishers, Ind. He founded the family-owned business in 1985, which manufactures hydraulic systems and provides service and engineering for similar products in that field. But at closing time, Rossman heads north to the racetrack.

“I genuinely enjoying the people surrounding this business,” said Rossman. “Everyone is friendly and they work hard. You can tell they are in love with their animals. You don’t find that in a lot of businesses and to me that is a unique camaraderie.”

Tammy KNOX

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