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What About Horse Racing Jobs?

I hadn't considered having a page about jobs involving horse racing. Then I got an email in response to my Working Outside Contest. Michael Tammany worked in horse racing many years ago, and had the following story to tell us.

Michael Tammany
Carmel, Maine

In the 70s I was working on banana boats in Baltimore and the forward winch driver owned some Standard bred (trotters) racehorses. We were friends and bye and bye I got my license to race.

We'd race the same horse two or three times in an afternoon and during the first race I was run into and went off-stride--and lost any chance of making money. Before the 2nd heat (race) Ben, the winch driver/horse owner, fed me some Red-Man chewing tobacco and told me to spit some juice in the eye of the guy that hit me in the last heat to get even.

While approaching the Starting Gate, the moving vehicle that keeps horses in line for a fair start, I became ill from the stuff and gagged and some tobacco and juice came out and hit the guy that I was supposed to get and the effort caused him to lose his attention on his horse and he went off-stride. I finished 3rd winning $35.00 for the day and plenty of beers when we got home and Ben had a great time bragging.

I had to ask Michael a few questions to get the rest of the story, like whether he had ridden horses before, how the riders get paid, and what it takes to get licensed. His reply...

To get a "Driver's" license for Harness Racing you take a test, after some time around our racehorses, to be able to train them. With that comes the permission to qualify for driving horses in qualifying races for para-mutual races and you can race fairs like I'd done in that story (in Pennsylvania, Bedford).

You don't ride, you sit behind. I had ridden since I was young and on my uncles farm in Illinois. And I was around horses like in New York where I grew up down the block from a stable that had Hansome Cab horses. I'm 68 now and have worked at many jobs besides racing horses.

Usually a driver gets a percentage of what they win in a race, 5%, but sometimes I've had to find the owner or trainer and try to get some money.

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