Springhill, N.S. native Teesha Symes has been around race horses her whole life. Now 25, she finds herself looking after the top aged pacer, in Canada, for trainer Dr. Ian Moore.
“Three days after I was born we made a stop at the local track - on the way home from the hospital - and ever since then I’ve been around the horses,“ said Symes.
The daughter of Charles (Chuck) and Shirley has been all over the continent working with horses and she’s had her hands on some good ones over the years.
“I spent about six months working with Shadow Play back in 2008,” she says. “I’ve also looked after Royal Becquet (2009 Gold Cup and Saucer starter), Mr Perseverance (2013 Paul Bunyan Invitational winner in Bangor) and now I’m enjoying my time with State Treasurer (two-time winner of the Molson Pace in London).”
State Treasurer, owned by Sally MacDonald of Souris, PE and Paul MacDonald of Regina, SK, has got to be the number one-ranked aged pacer in Canada, right now, with his four straight wins - including his latest victory - a stunning last-to-first swoop, of the field, after making a bobble at the start of the $150,000 Molson Pace.
“After he made that break at the start - I found it hard to even watch the race... Especially at the half when he was still sitting last,” Symes explains. “Then he began to pick them off and I made my way closer to the TV to get a better look. For him to get up to win that race was just awesome and to do it beating Foiled Again was just mind-blowing!”
Teesha recalls the second-place finish by Shadow Play to Somebeachsomewhere, in The 2008 Messenger at Yonkers, as one of her most favourite moments in racing. “That race was just so exciting... It was so close and it was a real thrill for me to be a part of that. ”
It’s a horse by the name of Anybunny that will forever hold a special place in Teesha’s heart. “He was my favourite,” she says proudly. “I used to kill for the ‘BOOM’ call (Vance Cameron’s Boom! Just like that...) when racing on P.E.I... Sadly we had to put him down last season. He was sixteen then and he just wasn’t going to make it another winter.”
Symes spent last summer working with her Dad in Bangor before heading to Dr. Ian Moore’s Florida operation in late October. Now in Ontario, working full-time for Moore, a normal day for Teesha consists of getting up around 5:30 am and heading to the barn - where the work normally finishes up around noon. “We’ve got an awesome team here and Ian is great to work for.”
Working as a groom Symes likes to play it day by day. “It’s a lot of hoping for the best and living for the moment,” she says. “I’ve been lucky to have been mentored by my Dad,” she continued. “Guys like Mark Ford, Heath Campbell and Ian have been very good to me along the way too... Ian asked me the other day where he could get two of me, so it’s a nice feeling to get a compliment like that.”
So what’s it like to look after the best aged pacer in Canada? “That question makes me nervous,” she replies. “I do my best to look after him like the other horses, but maybe he does get an extra piece of licorice or a few extra carrots now and then.”
Another special horse out of the Moore camp this season is the P.E.I.-owned pacing colt Silverhill Shadow. And he’s special for Symes in a unique way too. “My Dad bought his mom (Ruthie Jane) from the Amish back in 2009. We raced her a few times in Charlottetown, PE and then sold her to Casey Gavin - who then bred her to Shadow Play. And from that came Silverhill Shadow.”
Teesha likes her basketball, softball and hockey and had once worked with correctional services and the jail in Amhert, N.S., but her heart is and always has been with the horses. ”Growing up working next to Dad... Working with the horses is what I know and it’s what I love. It’s not even work for me...”
So any advice to pass along to an aspiring groom? “I’d say work hard and always do your best,” she says. “Sure there are going to be some long days, but this job is so worth it.”
by Shannon "Sugar" Doyle, for Western Fair District