Veronica Spicer – wife / mother / caretaker
by Victoria Howard
Veronica Toth Spicer could thank her grandfather, Martin “Fox” Corso, for how her life eventually turned out.
One day when Corso needed someone to warm up his horse, New Zealand horseman Symon Spicer kindly obliged. Little did Corso, Simon, or Corso’s granddaughter, Veronica, know, but the introduction between the two young people would turn out to be a marriage “made in heaven” or perhaps, more accurately “made in a barn.”
At that time, Veronica was a culinary student, but after graduation she and her new boyfriend, Symon, merged their time and talents to developed a successful stable.
Today, the Spicers operate a stable of 18 racehorses, plus several standardbred “pets” that live on the farm.
“We are stabled at Gaitway Farms in New Jersey,” Veronica said. “We race our horses mainly at The Meadowlands, Freehold, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Yonkers and Pocono Downs.”
Besides her grandfather, Veronica’s uncle is Taylor Palmer, who at one time owned and operated Boxwood Farms, a large standardbred farm in New Jersey.
Besides racing, the Spicers also welcome turnouts and rehab horses on the farm they live with their two children: 13-year-old Sawyer, and 6-year-old Delaney.
Many horsewomen know too well how tricky it can be to raise a family while working with their other (four-legged) kids.
“It’s definitely a balancing act raising kids in the barn, but somehow, I manage to get it done,” Veronica said. “When my husband races, or on holidays or school activities, our schedules change. You just have to continually adjust your schedule.”
Let’s talk a little about your husband, Symon.
“My husband was born and raised in New Zealand where his father owned a few standardbred horses,” Veronica said. “Symon also worked for Roy and Barry Purdon in New Zealand. He came to the United States in 2004 where he was employed by top trainers, Linda Toscano and Ron Burke. In 2021, he branched out on his own.
“After working 12 years for Toscano, Symon went to work for the Burke stable where he became an assistant trainer. Although he learned many things, the one thing he learned was to classify your horse correctly if you want success.”
When he left Burke to venture out on his own, he had four horses, which quickly turned into 21.
As far as Veronica’s all-time favorite horse, she said with a laugh, “If you ask any of my owners they would say, ‘all of them.’ This is true for I do love each and every one. Presently I have two favorites: Winneress and Marvelous One.
“Winneress, is a 9-year-old trotter who races in the amateur races, and competes under saddle. Marvelous One has always been my daughter’s favorite since coming to our barn. He will always be special to our family because he was the first horse we trained.”
She also has a favorite trainer.
“Although there are several superstar female trainers, I am biased towards Linda Toscano, for she is one of the hardest working trainers [man or woman] in the sport,” she said. “Linda is also one of the classiest women I have ever met. As far as male trainers [besides my husband Symon of course] I look up to Joe Holloway. He is always supportive to fellow horsemen and gives the best advice.
“I also admire Suzanne D’Ambrose. Besides being a dear friend, Suzanne is a tremendous ambassador to our sport for she includes young people through events and clinics and is a trustee and teacher with HHYF.”
And don’t tell Veronica that our sport is dying.
“Although there are not as many spectators as there once was, through social media sites such as Tik Tok, Facebook and Harness Horse Youth Foundation, the interest is rising,” she said. “Take our amateur driving races. These drivers are your everyday guys and girls who can bring their friends to the races, where we now get a new fan base. This is what our sport needs; fresh, young blood, to keep it thriving and alive.
“Sadly, in the sport many people are their worst enemies. We need to unite and support one another. As a working mother I do not have much time to focus on anything other than my close circle. Raising one child and one teenager — the future of harness racing — we need to make our sport more inclusive to a younger fan base. Even as young as pre-teens, we need to invite younger horse groups to our training farm or stable for a tour. I know that together we can do it!”
Veronica said that there are many women involved in the sport that are also moms.
“We cannot attend the races because we have children and a home to keep,” she said. “Sadly, we do not get the recognition as much as being a groom, but we work just as hard as those who are single.
“Spicer stable is a ‘family’ stable where we do not have selected assigned jobs. We all work together doing whatever is necessary. My son, Sawyer, and daughter Delaney, dig right in and do their part in making our stable successful.”