Sarnia’s Taylor Spitzig, 29, works a lot of afternoon and midnight shifts as a border ambassador for a trucking company and that then allows her time in the mornings to help out at the barn in Courtwright.
“We’ve got about 30 horses in total,” she says. “Anything from babies, to racehorses, to broodmares, to a stallion - they’re all here. I do a lot of the barn work and my Dad (Rusty) is on the track jogging and training - George Little helps out with that too.”
Spitzig mentions that although she grew up around the business of horse racing - it wasn’t until after college that she decided to get involved as an owner and trainer. “I didn’t think about it much until I started coming back around the barn again when I was 19,” she explains. “There was this horse named Tommy Teefy and nobody was having any luck with him - so I got to working with him and we got along great. He may not have been much of a racehorse, but I learned lots from him… I guess it was then that I started thinking about becoming a trainer and I’d have my license soon after.”
When Spitzig thinks about her earliest memories of The Raceway - they include the drive up from Sarnia… “I remember driving there with Dad on Friday nights and you could always smell the fries - from the McDonald’s on the corner of Highbury and Hamilton - that’s when I knew we were close to the track.”
A few favourite horses that she’d cheer for back in the day were raced by her dad Rusty around the tracks of Ontario… “J N Johnny was a gentle giant - he was just so laid back and he had such great manners - he was family with us. And then came Twin B Rawley… My Dad really liked him as a colt and when he was going away to Florida, after his 2YO season, he asked Gord McKnight to train him and the rest is history. Gord went on to train and drive him for almost 7 years - winning lots of Preferred trots in London and he won some nice races over Mohawk and Woodbine too.”
Twin B Rawley retired with 31 wins and $358,045 earned - with a mark of 1:54 taken as a 6YO over Mohawk.
Winwood Nick would provide Spitzig with her first career victory, as an owner and trainer, at The Raceway in March of 2014. Lorne House would drive the Rambaran son to a gate-to-wire upset win over Royal Sir and My Perfect Heart. “I was very excited and relieved to get that first win out of the way. Nick is not with me anymore, but I’m sure he’s somewhere in a field enjoying life now.”
Chipchipahoy was Team Spitzig’s lone winner, of this past race meet, in London… Owned by family friend Wilbur Eash, of Indiana, this pacing filly will likely see her next racing action at Hiawatha Park. “Hoosier Park was closing and Dad had asked about her and she wasn’t quite fast enough for there - so Wilbur asked if we wanted to try her in Ontario. We’re thinking she may be a better summer horse and that she’ll likely enjoy the bigger track at Sarnia.”
Some will remember the good pacer Rocknroll King around London. He retired from racing back in 2015… “We have him in the back field, right now, with his first mare to breed this year - B M Omega Alpha. Sweet Queen Cole is coming to him soon as well… He’s been enjoying his time away from the races.”
And ‘The King’ has got some offspring ready to race this season… “Nickerback has started, but he was green at the time, so we’ll expect better when he comes back… There’s a pair of 3YO fillies too - Pretty Rapid Dash and Hope To Win are almost ready to go and Carollittlesking may need more time - he was a very late foal of 2017, but he’s still the biggest horse we have in the barn right now.”
Elvis (I love the name!) is a 2YO who apparently looks the part so far. “He’s out of Hopes Way and he’s a big, thick, muscular colt - we have some high hopes for him - he’s broke and jogging nicely. Its Julep Time is about to be broke - she got her name when she came along around the Kentucky Derby of 2018.”
So there’ll be no Kentucky Derby run anytime soon… Originally scheduled to go this Saturday - it’s now slated to be run in early September if all goes well.
“Here’s hoping we’re back racing soon,” concludes Spitzig. “We just have to keep our heads and remain safe!”
Shannon ‘Sugar’ Doyle
The Raceway at Western Fair District