Meet the WVS Team

TK Kuegler

Founder & Managing Partner

Michele Pesula Kuegler

Director of Aftercare & Community

George Adams

Director of Stallions & Breeding

Ron Emrick


Tamarie Allard


Jesse Cruz


Jesse Cruz has grown up at the racetrack since his toddler years. According to Jesse, he didn't enjoy being there in his younger years but became more interested by a horse named Russell Road. Initially he wanted to pursue being a jockey. This dream was derailed by a growth spurt during his teenage years. After high school he spent time at Gulfstream Park and Saratoga as an exercise rider for Billy Mott and Mike Maker. He also worked for Ollie Figgins III as an assistant trainer. In December 2016 he earned his trainer's license in Maryland. Slightly more than three months after that he gained his first win. Since then, Jesse has earned over $1.7 million and is a multiple stakes winning trainer. Jesse's stable is based at Monmouth Park and Tampa Bay Downs. You can follow him on Twitter at @Cruz_Racing.

Mark Salvaggio


Mark Salvaggio started as a groom at Thistledown during high school. After high school he moved to Ocala and started galloping there. Mark moved back to Cleveland and became a jockey at Thistledown in 1980. He worked in that role for twenty-three years. During that time, he had a number of accomplishments. In 1990 he was second in the nation for wins as a jockey. He also won at three racetracks in the same day: Parx, Delaware, and Penn National. In 2003, Mark left his career as a jockey and began working for his brother, Michael, starting in the roles of groom and exercise rider. He earned his trainer’s license in 2011 and has been working on his own since then. His stable is located at Penn National.

Grace Smith

Assistant Trainer

Grace Smith has been riding horses since she was 10 years old. She grew up horse showing, up and down the east coast until heading off to college where she majored in Equine Instruction & Training at Delaware Valley College. After college, she worked at a few hunter jumper barns, teaching adults and children how to ride horses. After a few years of that she was introduced to working on the racetrack by trainer, Douglas Nunn, in May of 2019. When it came to her first day, Doug told her to be at the barn at 3:30 AM, and she thought to herself, “This isn’t going to work out for me.” However, after her first day, she was hooked. She absolutely loved working in the barn with the racehorses; it was such a different experience than horse showing nd working for hunter jumper barns. That first weekend working was all she needed to see before deciding this was what she wanted to do forever. Since then she went to Palm Meadows Training Center to work as a foreman for Danny Gargan, then came back to Monmouth Park to work for Douglas Nunn again as his assistant. Then in the end of summer 2020, after spending some time with Jesse Cruz, she decided to move to Charles Town to work with Jesse for Wasabi Ventures Stables! Although she hasn’t had many jobs on the track, working for WVS is the best job she’s ever had. She loves working for owners who put the horse first and truly care about where the horses go after their time on the racetrack. She is very passionate about rehoming and retraining off the track thoroughbreds and even was able to retire her favorite racehorse, Shecanflatoutplay! Grace wakes up everyday at 3:30 AM and is still so excited to go to “work” everyday. She loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything other than spending her days with amazing racehorses!

Zoe Valvo


Growing up in Idaho, Zoe got her start in horses by first starting out in the hunter jumper world. But by the age of 8, she discovered pony races and has been in the racing world ever since. In 2011, Zoe acquired her first steeplechaser who wasn’t showing any promise for his connections and took him to the winner’s circle for hurdles multiple times and won the Virginia Steeplechase Association (VSA) Hurdle Horse of The Year award. Zoe was gifted a New York bred horse deemed “untrainable due to behavior” and won the VSA Flat Horse of The Year award in 2012. The day after she turned 16 and was legally allowed to ride races, she won her first flat race and came third in her first ride over hurdles. Those achievements were even sweeter since the horses she ran were ones she owned and trained herself. 2012 continued to showcase her talent when she won her first sanctioned NSA race on a horse she trained and was owned by her mother. She was then asked to represent the United States in the Fegentri International Amateur Jockey series that ran races in, Australia, France, Oman, Qatar, Poland, Sweden, Norway, Abu Dhabi, Germany, and Italy. For five years, Zoe rode in Thoroughbred and Arabian races across the world for Fegentri and ARCA, as well as two all-women’s amateur jockey series including H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship. While continuing her riding and training career, Zoe rode out for leading NSA trainers including Janet Elliot, Doug Fout, and Neil Morris and exercise rode for Timothy Keefe at Laurel Park. In 2016, Zoe started training steeplechasers and the occasional flat horse for a private farm in Middleburg, Virginia. Then in 2018, Zoe opened her own barn for outside clients. She continues to train Thoroughbreds and Arabians and takes a special interest in breaking yearlings to give them a great start to their future racing career.

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