TK is the Founder and Managing Partner at Wasabi Ventures Stables. His job is to steer the business and horse racing aspects of the operation working closely with both the business and racing sides of the operation. It has been his life long dream to build a world class racing stable. Since hearing the stories of his great grandfather about the racing business in the 50s and 60s, he has romantically dreamt of making a stable a reality. After a long professional career in the startup world where in his 25 years of startup activity, he has been a part of over 1,500 rounds of financing as an investor, founder, or adviser, he decided to bring a lot of that experience to the racing industry.
Michele Pesula Kuegler is the Director of Aftercare and Community. Her role at WV Stables combines her passion for animals with her skills in social media, community building, data analysis, and philanthropy. In addition to this role, Michele works as the Executive Director of The Horse Fund, which tracks all former and current horses WVS horses to assist in their safe retirements. She also works as a food blogger, creating and sharing new recipes, and wine educator. A short summary of her professional life is that her days are filled with horses, wine, food, and the WVS community.
After a short career as a corporate attorney, George decided to follow his passion and embarked on a career in the Thoroughbred industry in 2012. He established his Housatonic Bloodstock LLC in 2014, which provides pedigree analysis and mating recommendations to clients, as well as assistance identifying and inspecting potential purchases both privately and at auction. His prior industry experience included stints at Claiborne Farm, Country Life Farm, and with Shug McGaughey. He has been a part of the Wasabi team since shortly after its inception. George returned to the equine industry in 2012 and worked at Country Life Farm in Maryland until late 2015, where he researched pedigrees, helped to plan matings, and identified racing and broodmare prospects at the sales. Among the horses picked out by George at the sales were If Not For Her, a $25,000 yearling purchase who went on to become a stakes-placed winner of $123,590 before re-selling as a broodmare prospect for $135,000, and Baby Love, a $24,000 broodmare purchase while carrying the stakes winner/Grade 3-placed Bonus Points in utero. George now concentrates all his energies exclusively on Housatonic Bloodstock. Housatonic Bloodstock LLC offers a range of services to Thoroughbred owners and breeders, including pedigree analysis and mating recommendations, as well as assistance identifying and inspecting potential purchases at auction. Housatonic Bloodstock has been involved in buying, selling and breeding race horses since 2014. The name Housatonic is taken from a river that flows through Western Massachusetts, where George grew up. He now lives in Baltimore with his wife and two small children.
Ron has been working professionally in Software and Internet businesses for over 25 years. Whether it is helping to design and scale large enterprise websites, leading development teams to create database middleware solutions or participating on teams to deliver state-of-the-art mobile applications, Ron’s passion for building world-class software is undeniable. Ron enjoys traveling with his family, a round of golf with his sons, and coaching football. After years of listening to TK talk about horses and horse racing, he became interested in and now enjoys the claiming and handicapping aspects of the sport.
Tamarie is a former Air Force brat, who moved all over the country including Hawaii. Since 1980 she has been settled, educated, married, and raised a family in New Hampshire. Tamarie has 30+ years of accounting experience in the NH area. In 2021 she and her husband uprooted and moved to sunny Florida, a lifelong plan. Her vast range of work experience includes everything from general contractors to real estate developers to law firms to accounting firms to governmental agencies to real estate brokers to venture capitalists to start-ups. She works for companies she likes that have both ethics and integrity. Tamarie prefers working with smaller entrepreneurs due to the hands-on, creativity, and general excitement of a new company.
Jason Barkley is a third generation trainer. He went to University of Louisville and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Equine Business. He started his career as an assistant for Nick Zito. Included in the horses he worked with there are Dialed IN, Fast Falcon, and Jackson Bend. After a year off from training, he came back and worked for a year with Joe Sharpe and another year with Wesley Ward, as an assistant in both roles. After that he went out on his own with no horses but a hope and a prayer. He got his first horse, a claimer for 5k at Churchill. Jason got his first win at Keeneland on the first day of the 2017 meet. He finished 2018 with a record of 11 for 33. With this success, he started picking up more clients. You can follow Jason on Twitter at @jbark131
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 $1.5 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 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.
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.
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!