They turned to horses in grief and now they own the B.C. Derby champion

“Now I understand why Mom loved the horses as much as she did,” said Tasha Ceraldi, whose Accidental Hero won the B.C. Derby.

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Despite just five horses in the field, last Saturday’s B.C. Derby was a thriller with Accidental Hero and Sunbird engaging in a stretch-long duel.

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Without a betting interest in the race, it was hard to know which horse to root for.

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Sunbird is owned by Pauline Felicella and the estate of her late husband, Nick Felicella. The Felicellas have been huge supporters of the horse-racing industry in B.C. and the best horse they owned, Spaghetti Mouse, was a fan favourite.

Accidental Hero, who had a perfect trip under Kimal Santo, won the 1 1/8 miles classic by a head for trainer Larry Grieve.

The Kentucky-bred colt by Mo Town is owned by Chris and Tasha Ceraldi, who claimed him for $40,000 out of a winning race at Oaklawn Park on May 5. They race under the stable name, WYN Racing Stables Corp. The stable is named in honour of Tasha’s mother, Donna, whose middle name was Wyn.

The Ceraldis are relatively new to the game as owners, and they have brought a breath of fresh air to the industry. It is impossible to find anyone more enthusiastic about horse racing.

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They were both exposed to horse racing as children by their parents, but never really got involved until last year when they jumped in with both feet. In just two years, the Ceraldis have won the most important race in B.C., the Derby, and in 2022 they won the B.C. Oaks with Kloepatra, who was voted the champion three-year-old filly in the province.

“We kind of got away from it because we were young parents with a family to raise,” said Chris.

“We would drop down for the big races with my mom, though,” added Tasha.

When Donna died from cancer last year, Chris asked Tasha if she would be interested in buying a horse in her honour. Donna was Grieve’s sister.

The idea was to buy one horse, but they ended up with four, including Kloepatra.

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“We didn’t know anything about what being owners entailed,” said Tasha. “We just kind of immersed ourselves in it, and for myself personally, I feel like it was a lot of healing. Mom loved the horses so much and just being around the horses helped me deal with my grief.”

Tasha wasn’t kidding when she said immersed. She works as a hot walker and groom for Uncle Larry.

“Now I understand why Mom loved the horses as much as she did,” said Tasha. “It is also really nice to be involved with the backstretch community at Hastings. We are all competing against each other, but we all support each other. When I first started walking horses, people were very helpful in giving me advice on how to do it properly. I just love being here.”

The Ceraldis give a lot of credit for their success to Ian and Helen Jewell. Ian is Grieve’s assistant trainer.

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“Uncle Larry is getting on in age and he can’t do everything,” said Tasha. “Ian and Helen have been very helpful to us, as has everyone working in the barn.”

The feeling is mutual from Ian, who was the assistant trainer for the late Glen Todd.

“I was kind of lost when Glen died,” said Jewell. “They saved me.”

Jewell will be in charge of six horses the Ceraldis are sending to Oaklawn Park this winter.

Mom would be very proud of her daughter, and Chris, who remembers her fondly.

“She had such a high standard and everything she did was set at a high bar,” he said. “As a young son-in-law, I sometimes had a hard time reaching that bar. We are not only honouring her by name, but by how we do everything.”

Raising the bar is exactly what the Ceraldis are doing at Hastings.

Saturday selections

RACE 4: Mr. Morris

RACE 5: Jersey Lillie

RACE 6: Pay My Way

RACE 7: Miss the Hype

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