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Symes Enjoying Success Stateside

Published: February 13, 2021 5:25 pm ET

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While many Ontario horsepeople await and prepare for the return of harness racing in this jurisdiction next week, a number of others -- like trainer Teesha Symes -- have made their way stateside since the start of the shutdown to ply their trade.

She’s quick to admit, however, the move is simply a temporary one until she can head back to her regular base.

“Ontario is home for me right now,” Symes told Trot Insider. “My boyfriend (Beau Brown) actually had plans of coming to Ontario this summer with me before this lockdown started. He’d like to get driving some more, as well. I’m hopeful he’ll be able to fit well into Hanover, Clinton and Dresden this summer. I’m just making lemonade while life hands us lemons. Ohio may be in the long term plans for us but for right now the plan is to head back north soon.

“I’ve still got six in Ontario; a few on a break and a couple jogging back,” Symed added. “There’s six down here racing. Also, the old horse Rockin In Heaven stands stud in Ontario and will soon need to start breeding mares.”

While returning to Ontario is the short-term plan, the long-term plan could see her shift her operation stateside.

“It’s just tough for me to leave right now, I’m only into my fourth year on my own,” admitted Symes. “I’ve been very lucky to get some great owners along the way. I’m set up in a beautiful, 12-stall barn of my own at Golden Horseshoe Training Centre in Hamilton with beautiful huge paddocks.

“And with the old horse ‘Moe’ (Rockin In Heaven) racing and breeding in Ontario this season, an Ohio permanent move right now would be tough,” she added. “It’s definitely not out of the question, and most likely in the cards within the next couple of years.”

While her current six-horse stable is the reality, it easily could have been 16 or more. But that wasn’t something she was interested in managing at this time.

“I’ve honestly turned at least 10 people away, which may or may not be the right choice,” said Symes. “But the way I look at it is quality over quantity. I didn’t make this move to expand my stable. I made it to try and keep the money coming in for my current owners. I don’t want to have a bunch of horses for a certain class and my owners, who have been with me since pre-lockdown, having their horses sit out. I believe the people that want to send horses are only wanting to send horses for the sheer fact that they’re not able or willing to come here themselves. Or their current trainers aren’t able or willing.

“I’m not about to take money out of the Canadian trainers’ pockets just for the convenience of me being here,” she added. “If they wanted those people to train their horses in Canada, they should stick with those trainers during the lockdown. Also hiring help down here can be difficult with me being Canadian and all. So I’d like to keep my numbers down where I can do them myself comfortably.”

What’s helped make the transition a smooth endeavour is the fact that she has some good people in her corner.

“Brian and Jennifer (Brown) both have been super awesome with me coming down,” said Symes. “And Amy Hollar (Beau’s aunt), they’ve all been super helpful with getting set me up here. I’m in one of their barns at Delaware. It’s always nice to have people in your corner when going somewhere new and they’ve all been very helpful and welcoming.”

What has been a challenge for Symes is adapting to the style and calibre of racing at Northfield Park’s half-miler.

“It’s tough,” Symes exclaimed, sporting a 3-3-2 record and $19,277 from 25 starts. “I’ve raced horses on the east coast, Maine, Ontario and New York on my own and with my dad and I can honestly say Northfield is the toughest. They freaking fly! It’s a completely different style of racing.”

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