May 16, 2023
Let’s Meet Julia Ezra By: Jennifer Morrison
She might be just 19 years old but Julia Ezra has collected a lot of horsemanship knowledge in a short time. The daughter of longtime Ontario horsepeople Daryl and Michelle Ezra, Julia is expanding her horizons in Thoroughbred racing with training, handicapping and on-air work on her resumé. “I have wanted to take out my trainer’s license since I was 16, but you can’t [in Ontario] until you are 21,” said Julia. “For now, I will just try and do as many jobs as I can, learn more.”
Born in Welland, ON and one of four children for the Ezras, Julia was a ‘backstretch baby’, accompanying her mother to Fort Erie barn where Daryl has had a stable for horses since the early 1990s.
“As a kid, I would hide in the tack room at Fort Erie because they didn’t allow anyone under 12 working there,” laughed Julia.
Once she was a teenager, Julia had her grooming license and learned how to jog racehorses at a nearby farm. She credits jockey Anthony Husbands for helping her graduate to galloping horses at the track.
“Anthony taught me a lot,” said Julia. “I knew how to jog a horse, but Anthony really helped me to learn how to gallop.”
Julia laughs when she remembers one of her first workouts on a horse. “He was with me on another horse. He chirped to my horse to get him to go faster and then when I couldn’t pull the horse up, he grabbed him for me.”
Julia got a job as a pony rider at Fort Erie a few years ago and has filled that role on race days at Fort Erie. Last year she claimed her first horse, Reign by Rein, and that filly went on to win for the young horsewoman and be named the Distance Female Horse of the meeting.
Julia also got a chance to work in front of the camera on several occasions, handicapping races on the Fort Erie simulcast feed and hosting the HBPA Ontario Fort Erie Awards. And, on the biggest racing day of the Fort Erie season, Prince of Wales Day, Julia was enlisted to greet the winner of the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown while on horseback for the TSN broadcast.
“That was a highlight. First, I was ponying Ironstone to the gate for the race. Then I had to gallop fast to get to the other side of the track. I interviewed Justin Stein on Duke of Love after they won.”
Julia has moved her tack to Woodbine for this year where she is exercising horses for trainer Katarina Vassilieva. She is also set to join the pony team of Richard Persad at Woodbine, working each race day at Canada’s biggest track.
“I feel like I am learning a lot more here at Woodbine right now. I am on the pony, and I can watch so many different horses and trainers and riders go by. I like watching all the different horses training.”
Julia is also a co-founder of the Double Blooded Syndicate, an affordable horse ownership club for people new to the sport.
“Originally it was my idea to get a bunch of people together and claim a horse,” said Julia. “The first group we had, Krazy 8, was mostly just my Dad’s friends who had owned horses before. Then we started Double Blooded for newcomers.”
Double Blooded offers a share in the club for $1,000, a one-time payment that includes all training bills. Reign by Rein, sold by Julia to the club, will race for Double Blooded this year.
“It’s very simple and fun. We have group chats online and my Dad sends them videos of the horse all the time. On race day, we all hang out together.”
Encouraging new owners into horse racing is something at the top of Julia’s long list of things she wants to pursue in racing. Considering how far she has come already, it’s a good bet she can accomplish anything.