Story by Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
The photos, dozens of horse images that hang on the 17-year-old’s bedroom walls, take on more meaning with each new day.
Every time Anna Tucciarone opens the door, turns on the light, and sees the photos, any stresses in her life, big or small, immediately wash away.
“There haven’t been a lot of things to look forward to because of the pandemic,” started the soft-spoken high school student from Mississauga, Ontario. “But the horses, they always bring you up if you are feeling down.”
Some of the horses she speaks of are in fact, her horses.
Along with her father Jon, Tucciarone currently owns shares of eight Standardbred racehorses through TheStable.ca, a fractional ownership group created by Anthony MacDonald and his wife Amy in 2015.
Her interest was sparked four years ago when her father shared a photo of the yearling he purchased shares in through TheStable.ca.
A longtime racing fan, Jon had often thought of joining the ownership ranks over the years.
“I’ve been going to the races for over 40 years. I love it. It’s a long history for me. My uncle used to own horses. I had always wanted to be owner and one day I came across TheStable.ca one day. It was easy to get involved and it wasn’t expensive. And it just makes things so exciting, the thrill of going to the races and watching a horse that is yours.”
Anna’s early recollections of going to the races differ greatly from those of her father’s.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t like going because I was so young and I would get so bored. I’d give my dad a hard time. But that’s all changed.”
Father and daughter are now fixtures at southwestern Ontario racetracks.
Although the pandemic has limited the opportunity to watch their horses in person over the past 13-plus months, they’ve found alternatives to keep track of their respective pacers and trotters.
“I wish I had a horse racing every night,” said Jon. “With COVID, it’s tough not going. We watch the races on TV, and for now, that will have to be the way we enjoy it together. But whenever you’re there in person, if you are having a bad day or going through a tough time, that all goes away.”
He’s also seen it, first-hand, in his daughter.
“It’s wonderful to see her love for the horses. Whether it’s going to the training centre or to the racetrack, she always wants to go and I always want to go. We go together and we can talk about horse racing and our horses. She’s always in the barn when I’m out watching them train. You can see just how much these horses mean to her.”
Anna’s forged a deep bond with two horses in particular.
Stonebridge Symba, a 5-year-old son of Yankee Glide, became a game changer for the teenager.
“I can say the first horse I fell in love with was Stonebridge Symba. He was the first horse that won for me. My eyes were watering when he won. It was something so special. He has changed my whole life.”
The bay trotter provided Anna, among many things, clarity when it came to her post-school aspirations.
After struggling to land on what she wanted to do outside of the classroom, she has finally found her calling.
“Before I decided to own horses, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. But after I started owning horses, I found what I wanted to pursue in life. Right now, my goal is to become a groom. After that, I’m not really sure. I’m just happy I was able to find something that I love.”
Her friends and teachers are certainly aware of her passion for racehorses.
She’s even managed to incorporate her endearment for Standardbreds into her homework.
“It’s easy to fall in love with the horses. I talk about Stonebridge Symba and all of them in school and I also talk about them to my teachers. I’ve even done some school projects on my horses, talking about why people should become owners. My friends think it’s really cool that I own horses.”
Canadian Titan, a 4-year-old trotting daughter of E L Titan, has also had a profound effect on Anna’s life.
Anna with Canadian Titan
The bay mare was the last horse she saw on her first-ever visit to the stables.
“I remember going through the barn, one-by-one, looking at all the horses, and she was at the end. She had her head out of the stall and she was puffing out her lips. I just loved seeing that. I ended up becoming one of her owners last year. It was the most wonderful feeling. I made a Power Point presentation on why I wanted to buy her and showed my dad. That night, we got a share of her. It felt great to finally say that I was one of her owners.
“When she was racing before I owned her, we’d still go to watch her, just to support her. The first winner’s circle moment I had was with Canadian Titan. We didn’t own her at the time, but I loved watching her race and I followed her career. I really enjoy owning her and my other horses, and I really love having that connection to them with my dad.”
Horse talk between father and daughter is a daily occurrence.
Often, it’s multiple conversations throughout the course of a day, chats ranging from the latest updates on their respective horses, to commentary while watching videos of past wins, or the time they can stand railside again to watch the races.
“It’s wonderful to share this,” offered Jon. “I went to the races with my father and my uncles. It was always a family thing. Once I bought my yearling, Anna started following along and she wanted to come with me. I never forced her to go… she fell in love with it on her own. It’s something that we can share together, something we can relate to. So now, it’s a family thing again.”
Anna and Jon Tucciarone / Photo by New image Media
Whenever spectators are allowed back at the races, Jon and Anna will be ready.
For now, their usual front-row spot will be in a decidedly different setting.
“We watch them race online or on TV, but we just want to see them racing when we can stand there and cheer them on,” said Jon. “I can’t wait for that day to come.”
Neither can Anna.
Whether it’s when she’s working at her part-time job cleaning a local parking lot, finding a way to include horses in her latest school assignment, or posting images of them on social media, the horses she owns are always top of mind for the Grade 12 student.
“If I’m having a tough day, I know the one thing that can change it.”
Happiness for Anna Tucciarone is always just an open door away.
“It’s just memories, those photos, something to look at where I’ll think, ‘That was such a great day.’ And when I do, it puts the biggest smile on my face every time.”
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