"Our family goes back a long ways in this business..." - Monica Fritz

Posted Date: 
Monday, April 13, 2020

There was a time in the 1980s and early nineties that the name of William (Bud) Fritz was synonymous with harness racing in Ontario. The Fritz stable came as close to dominating the province’s sires stakes program as any single operation ever has. - The Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame

Enter granddaughter Monica Fritz of Walkerton, Ontario. She’s a 22-year-old student getting set to graduate from the University of Guelph with a degree in Animal Biology. She says her next step in education is ‘hopefully’ vet school.

“That’s what I’m aiming for,” states Fritz. “I’m really looking forward to starting my new job with the Milton Equine Clinic, working under Dr. Marc Desjardins, in May.”

Like her grandpa Bud and like her father Dale - Monica, too, has raced horses and won with them here in Ontario. “My Dad got Jamigo to the races back in 2010,” she says. “He was always a good trotter around Hanover and London, but then he got claimed away from us in the Spring of 2013. That summer we’d get North Leigh to the races and he’d win for us at Hanover, in his second lifetime start, but his career ended suddenly after just five races.”

Sounds like it would be a tough blow to any seasoned veteran of the game, let alone a teenager, but Monica stayed with it. “I love the horses - I’ve been around them my whole life and I do get really attached to them, but this losing a horse to a claim or anything else - well I learned very quickly that it’s sometimes just part of the business.”

Jamigo never did make it to the winner’s circle, following that particular claim, until he made it back to the Fritz barn that Fall. “I was able to get him back privately from horseman Dennis Morrissey,” she says. “We picked him up after not finding anything at the yearling sale, that year, in London and right off the bat he was racing good for us again.”

Jamigo would spend the next few years racing for Team Fritz, trotting to a mark of 1:59.3 and racing plenty of Preferred action as well. In November, of 2015, Jamigo got claimed again and since then he’s been racing mainly up around Rideau and Three Rivers. “He’s in Ottawa now and I still enjoy following him and his races.”

Like so many others, involved in the industry, Monica’s racing roots run deep… “Our family goes back a long ways in this business and I’ve always enjoyed being a part of it… I’m very proud to be my Dad’s biggest fan. I’ve always wanted to be there for him and we’re still close - watching old replays and stuff now and then. I just feel very lucky to be a part of this family that is so passionate about horses.”

The earliest memories for Fritz, around The Raceway, involve the pacer Back To Back Jack. “My dad bought him as a yearling in London (2004) when I was six and we’ve had him ever since. He’s always been one of my best friends for sure. Everything about him is just special and he’s got that forever home with our family.”

Hall of Famer Bud Fritz is on the ownership line for the good pacer Im Not Bad who’s raced in London plenty of times. “My Grandma (the late Ethel Fritz) loved him at the yearling sale (2014) and picked him out for Grandpa… He was dark and had some nice markings - a real looker! I can remember him winning his first start at The Raceway in 2017… Uncle Terry (Fritz) races him.”

Reflecting on her Grandparents… “Bud has always been a man of a few words. A great all-around horseman who could do anything with any racehorse. He instilled his hard work ethic in all of us and our family has a lot of great memories of his time in racing… Grandma, no longer with us, was my best friend. I really looked up to her - raising nine children - plus she helped Grandpa lots too. She looked after all of us and was the backbone of our family for sure.” 

And going forward… “I’ve been doing everything for school online and helping out at the barn with my fiancé, Jake Roberts, who works for trainer Rob Fellows. My job in Milton will be starting soon - so I’m really looking forward to that.”

And what about a return to harness racing for Monica? “I’ve always known that I wanted to be in this industry, but I wanted to be something, maybe, unique to the business within our family. I’m sure I’ll be involved in one way or another.”

And finally - any words of encouragement to share with your fellow horse people during this downtime from racing? “Try to stay busy - try to keep motivated and look forward to better days ahead.”