Lexington, KY — Popular horseman Walter “Red” Ross Sr., 80, died Oct. 18, 2020, in a South Florida hospital.
A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Ross began his career as a trainer and driver in New England after being schooled in the sport by his grandfather, Howard Britt. Mr. Ross obtained his trainer-driver license shortly after graduating from high school and won his first race, with a horse named Jimmy Joe, at Hinsdale Raceway.
Mr. Ross raced at tracks along the East Coast before settling into a winter and then year-round routine at Pompano Park.
Mr. Ross’ most notable years on the national stakes scene came in 1975 and 1977. In ’75, Mr. Ross trained and drove Yankee Bambino, who won a heat of the Hambletonian and battled valiantly in a three-horse race-off but finished second, beaten by a nose by Bonefish. In 1977 Mr. Ross trained and drove No No Yankee to victory in the inaugural Woodrow Wilson at The Meadowlands.
During the 1990s Mr. Ross was also a fixture at Rosecroft Raceway, handling horses for owner Ruth and Bill Dudley. When Rosecroft closed for the winter months, the Dudley horses were fixtures in the upper classes at Pompano, among the most notable Margie’s Tyler, General Aidid and Talbot Duke. In 2008, he developed the fast 2-year-old Mysticism, who was bred by his wife, Pat. Mr. Ross qualified the colt impressively in 1:53.4 on June 13 at Pompano Park, which quickly brought big-money offers which resulted in a sale.
Mr. Ross was inducted into the Florida Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012.
Mr. Ross’ stable was a family affair as his wife, Pat, and sons Wally Jr. and Wade worked there for many years and were integral parts of the stable operations. The Ross Stable on the Pompano Park backstretch was a popular stop, where the Ross family’s hospitality, and tales of life with horses and family, brought smiles and laughter.
Mr. Ross is survived by his wife, Pat; son, Wally Jr.; daughters, Wendy Ross Fletcher (Jeff) and Whitney Ross (Ken Jarrett); and several grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Wade, who died in 2012, at age 45, after battling colon and liver cancer.