Rose Day has always supported her daughters’ ambitions amidst her busy schedule at the racetrack, where she is often the first to arrive at the barn and last to leave. Her youngest daughter, Shayeann Day-Wilson, is a phenomenal basketball player who has represented Team Canada at Globl Jam in 2022 and 2023. She was named ACC Freshman of the Year for the 2021-2022 season and is currently a junior at the University of Miami.

At Woodbine, the work is never ending. The horses need continuous care and attention, and it truly takes a village. Raising three daughters while working at Woodbine and ensuring they got to all their practices and extracurriculars was difficult to juggle with the long days. In combination with the demanding needs of a career at the racetrack, Day has always been a constant supporter of her children.

Aside from Shayeann’s immense sporting talent, Day’s support has helped get her daughter to where she is today. Not only has Day worked extremely hard herself, but she also notes the additional assistance she has received to make that support possible, including her best friend, who would help babysit.

Support, hard work, and dedication have been cornerstones in both Day and Shayeann’s lives.

Day has been working at Woodbine for 25 years. Her cousin Velore first introduced her to the racetrack, where she initially started as a hotwalker and first worked for trainer Mike Doyle. After having Shayeann, Day worked for Audre Cappuccitti for 13 years. After the conditioner passed away, she started working for Sid Attard, a role she has held since 2014.

A woman holding a horse.

Rose at work at Woodbine.

“Velore brought me on the track, and I started walking horses in the morning and did my other job that was down the road in the afternoon. I hot walked for about two years and then I started grooming,” Day shared. “I went straight back to work two weeks after I had Shayeann.”

Shayeann wasn’t always interested in basketball. Initially, she was a dancer, something that she did alongside her sisters and friends, but eventually lost interest in.

She noted the importance of her local community centre, Falstaff Community Centre, where she grew up and spent countless hours.

“My mentor Patrick Shaw said, ‘You should try basketball,’” recalled Shayeann. “It was a whole community that showed me love and support from day one. It was basically like a story that was already written. There were many people before me, but they didn’t make it. Out of the goodness of his heart, Patrick kept me close and told me to play basketball and I fell in love with it ever since.

“I would give a lot of trouble in class, so basketball was the thing that saved my life and made me escape everything. As a kid, you’re antsy so it calmed me down and made me want to get good grades. Basketball saved my life and I’ve been playing it ever since I was 10. It made me want to be better.”

When Shayeann first became interested in basketball, Day made the effort to learn as much about it as possible. All three of her daughters began playing basketball at the same time and they would travel long hours to the United States for tournaments. This was extremely time-consuming and costly, especially since working at Woodbine requires long, and often non-traditional hours.

“We used to go to the States, I had three girls on the same team going there,” noted Day. “Sometimes the bus would break down on us in the cold, so we started flying there. I couldn’t take it. It was a 40–50-hour bus ride. Wherever she goes, I’m there.”

Amidst the hard work required during the long days and early mornings, Day has never missed the chance to support Shayeann and her passions and ambitions.

“I go to all her games that I can. If she had a bad game, I told her not to worry about that bad game. I tell her to go back to the gym to work on her craft. I always support her wherever she’s going.”

Shayeann is grateful her mother’s constant support.

“From day one, she’s been just as invested as I was. My mom never knew anything about basketball but now she knows everything. I can take constructive criticism and be better. When I got that call, I knew that she was calling me about something that she had seen. My mom always supported me and has been there for me. If my mom wasn’t there at my games, it would be Patrick. I appreciate my mom and it’s one of those situations where you can never pay them back. And it’s her passion now too.”

When did Shayeann know she might have a future in basketball?

“I was playing basketball and traveling to the States a lot. I was getting exposure and thought that I must be pretty good when I got those college offers. I was playing with the boys at a time in my life and I was taking them on, and I was doing it with swag. From when I was young, I knew that I had it. I grew up in the Falstaff Community Centre, so a lot of those guys helped me mentally and physically. They would install in my head that I’ll go to the WNBA. I know that’s my goal and I have to keep pushing.”

“It was challenging because at Woodbine, you can’t [take the time off],” said Day. “I told my boss, ‘Listen, my daughter’s playing basketball and I’ve got to support her.’ I’m supporting my daughter. He would understand and be okay with it since he’s also a parent and had kids in sports. But it was hard like with the financials, just everything. It was very expensive because it wasn’t her alone, it was two other sisters. I had to put in the work even more and budget myself more, but it all paid off.”

There have been more than a few helping hands over the years.

“It’s hard,” admitted Day. “My best friend, their godmother, lived in the same building, so in the morning I’d have to wake the girls up early and bring them down (to her apartment). Their godmother helped me a lot with weekend babysitting. When I do night racing, they stay there until the next day because, by the time I get home at 11 or 11:30, it’s not fair to wake them up. Patrick Shaw supported them a lot too. I had a lot of supporters.”

When she was young, Shayeann and her sisters would visit the barns in the mornings on the weekends. Day’s cousins would watch the girls and bring them to the racetrack early in the mornings.

“Audre [Cappuccitti] would drive them in her van and bring them to watch the horses train,” Day recalled.

Shayeann has fond memories of going to Woodbine.

“I never used to like the mornings but to get the opportunity that not a lot of people get to be around the horses and watch them get ready for races. It’s like being around athletes. It’s cool to see how they prepare for their races. Ever since I was young, I would go to the barn. Audre would always give me a bunch of mints. I would exceed my number of mints and my mom would say, ‘No more mints!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m just getting them for the horses,’ and I would be snacking on them in the back.”

“Audre was like a mother,” said Day. “She was the best. She was a boss who you could go to her office and talk with her about anything. She would give good advice and treated us all like her kids. She treated my kids like she was their grandmother.”

For the past two years, Shayeann has played for Team Canada in the Globl Jam tournament that took place in July.

“I do the national team stuff but it’s about my schedule – sometimes I’m in season while they’re doing their stuff. When I play for them it’s a great feeling to represent Canada.”

Day added, “To represent your country is a big thing to do. I’m proud of her watching her on TV and seeing Canada on her jersey and seeing her name.”

This year marks Shayeann’s first year at the University of Miami after she transferred from Duke University.

“There’s no better feeling than being with No. 1 and being with my friends and other Canadians. The school is great, with coaching, and their style of play. I’m looking forward to it. I have to do everything so that I can go pro and build my resume while I’m at it. You have to use your resources and perform well. I’m trying to stay consistent, and no better feeling than Miami and the culture there.”

Shayeann is working towards her goal of playing in the WNBA and one day owning a Thoroughbred.

“I want to have my own horse. Horses are definitely my favourite animal and I’d like one or two when I can afford it.”

Day has aims of her own, one for her daughter, the other for herself.

“I want Shayeann to achieve her goal of being in the WNBA and playing pro basketball overseas. My other goal is to become a trainer and train my own horses, as well as enjoy life and take lots of vacations.”