Visa Restrictions Threaten To Create Worker Shortage In Racing Industry

by | 02.13.2017 | 1:00pm
O-1 Immigration Visa

Tightening immigration policies are threatening to lead to a major manpower shortage throughout the horse racing industry.

As Tim Sullivan writes in the Louisville Courier-Journal, the racing industry – from horse farms to racetrack backstretches – are “reliant on foreign labor, primarily from Mexico”, although the government tends to believe that U.S. workers can fill those jobs.

According to the article, the H-2B visa, which is capped at 66,000 annually, is the most common authorization used by foreign nationals in the racing industry. In previous years, returning worker exemptions did not count against that 66,000. However, that exemption expired last September and it wasn't extended. As a result, there are only 33,000 April visas available while over 90,000 applications have been received.

“The cap is going to hit at the end of February,” said immigration attorney Will Velie. “When it does, the employers are going to have a choice between shutting their doors or breaking the law.”

“We can't operate without this labor force,” said trainer Dale Romans. “There's such a hate-mongering about immigrant workforces, but there's a huge difference between illegal immigration and those here on visas doing work Americans don't want to do.”

Read more in the Louisville Courier-Journal

  • A penny for your thoughts

    Dale Romans, why don’t you tell the average American how much you pay these foreign based workers working long hours in less than ideal conditions.

    • Mr J

      I pay my workers $22-25/hr. I am competing with companies paying foreign/illegals 1/2 that

      • billy

        Good for you now I have a question how can you afford that rate while others pay half that just curious no disrespect

        • Mr J

          I have a great reputation and some long time contracts/contacts. But it’s hard to get newer work,and I can’t give my guys raises

      • Lawrence R

        Doing what???

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          I can guarantee it’s nothing involving agriculture on the production end.

          • Mr J

            Construction. It’s hard asz busting work,if you’re here to knock it

          • Charles Smith

            If you are hiring legal workers and paying them a fair wage in the construction industry, I wish you the best of luck…you’ll need it going up against companies that hire the undocumented at payrates 40 percent lower than you pay.

          • billy

            At least in commercial construction it’s kind of different the company I work for is almost always underbid but we usually land the job good rep and quality work gets things done saving little on the bottom line for sub standard work isn’t worth it and general contractors know it

          • Rusty Shackelford

            Well said, this exploitation these American trainers, owners & tracks are doing to these immigrants to line their pockets at the expense of the American people & our county in whole is just horrific. These individuals that pass themselves off as humanitarians are really Wolves in Sheeps clothing. Shame on them who have this country embroiled in the immigrant issues that is tearing apart our country & fueling hate. Leading these immigrants to believe we won’t enforce our immigrant laws which is now come to this where it has to be done before we lose our country & it gets turned into another third world.

          • Minneola

            I don’t know what area of the country in which you live but in some parts there is a lot of building going on. Yet, there is such a shortage of skilled workers that there is a push in our high schools (in my area) to offer more training in the construction trades. These are kids that won’t have a huge college loan to pay off and are able to start working right after h.s. graduation and darned good pay! The only downside is that construction can be cyclical, which means that one needs to save for that rainy day as well as relocate to other parts of the country where building is booming. By the way, my father owned a construction company and there were leans years where he took most of his profits just to take government construction jobs that didn’t pay as well for one reason: to keep his best employees working and sticking with him so that he was ready for the next boom with a great crew. Yes, hard work and not for those who don’t get the idea of a day of hard labor.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        I’m pretty sure you aren’t paying grooms, hot walker’s and exercise workers $22-25/hr because at that rate, you couldn’t stay in business very long.

        • Minneola

          Construction fills a true need for shelter. It’s paid with non-discretionary income. Racing is not an essential. It is paid for with discretionary income. It is why people are willing to dig into their wallets for a home but not as likely for sports and other entertainment. So, you are very correct. Wouldn’t be able to afford to pay the grooms and others that much since there isn’t that much of an income to the owner or trainer. And, the purses are not that much as well as the win to loss ratio is not high. So, how can one afford to pay these very needed employees very much?

      • Ranveer singh

        Good …. Though

    • kyle

      It’s there in the story. $10.85/hr. If you’ve heard Romans’ sanctimonious rants on the subject he claims that is “well-payed.” I agree with him that there is a difference between guest workers and illegals. One is legal and the other isn’t, obviously. But both work to drive down wages. Plus, Romans is not being sincere. Again, if you’ve heard him rant, he likes to conflate the two and demonize those with whom he disagrees. The Courier-Journal article suggests that top California trainers flout the law. I’d like to hear Romans’ take on that

      • MA

        Lots of California trainers do that, and I’d assumed it was like that everywhere. I saw it firsthand working for several barns, including one of the BIG ones. But considering CA politics in general right now, I can see how they’d turn a blind eye to the law compared to more politically conservative regions.

    • Lawrence R

      And how very happy they are to do it considering the alternatives

      • Lehane

        They are being exploited.

        • Lawrence R

          We are all being exploited ,one way or another. Really, its an over used word . Many or I should say ,all come to America , seeking a better life.
          They find it and you say they are being exploited. I’m saying their life has
          been improved. Perhaps you have had a fine liberal arts college education, let me propose this question ,” what would it take for you to
          apply for a grooms position? $30. to $40. an hour plus benefits .?

          • Lehane

            Sure they have a better life and I’m happy for them in that respect. But they’re being exploited in that they’re mostly being underpaid from what I’ve read here. When I worked as a groom/strapper I earned $20 per hour and that was 8 years ago. Trackwork riders were getting $30 per horse ridden in the early hours of the morning and many of them went onto their day jobs e.g. office work, building construction and the odd university student earning some money to get them thru Uni.

      • lastromantibune

        with that analogy why not substitute the word slaves for foreign based workers ….greedy is the reason…..high workers comp rates is the other reason.

    • secondlife

      Racetrack hours are not as bad as breeding farms. Ask any farm worker how much fun it is to go back for breeding sessions at 10 pm every night.

  • SPA

    A few things jump out at me right away:

    1. Romans is a fool, he was on the Steve Byk show crying about this last October and blamed Trump then. As it turns out the Obama administration did not extend the program and Trump certainly won’t Also, Romans daughter worked/works for Hillary Clinton so he has an angle (when doesn’t he?). Where is the hate Romans speaks of? Can he cite specific incidents? Of course not he’s just a blowhard. BTW, believe it or not you do have a right to hate, no right to harm but a right to hate.

    2. Why is it that the industry is reliant on this labor? Is it because we barely pay a living wage for this work? As a kid in high school I worked every summer at the Meadowlands for one trainer or another. I took care of three horses and was paid $300 plus $40 paddocks. I’d illegally take home $380 a week because there were no taxes withheld. Add in withholding and it’s not much money. To a high school kid it’s a fortune, but not in the real world.

    3. The money that’s made by the backstretch workers does not cover expenses like healthcare, though in today’s times many HBPA’s or horsemen associations do offer coverage for a reasonable amount

    4. The living conditions in most dorms are inhumane….enough said. However, in harness racing most people are now stabled on a farm thus adding costs (offsite rent) to that small amount of pay.

    5. When I hear the terms “Americans won’t do that work” I think to myself “withhold the government subsidies they are getting and they’ll take those jobs real fast.”

    These are just the thoughts I had when reading the article but normally when an industry is reliant on foreign, semi-skilled labor it means they are not paying enough and working the employees long hours. I don’t see it as a Mexican, Italian, Polish or whatever issue, it’s just an issue that has been easily solved in the past with almost slave labor. Time to think of alternative strategies.

  • kuzdal

    No one wants to shovel manure.

    Everyone wants to pick vegetables in the fields. Well, I don’t because I just don’t.

    So….you “winning” yet?

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      I have yet to meet the US citizen who wanted a job in the field or a slaughterhouse who couldn’t get one.

      • secondlife

        That’s kind of the point though. Most Americans don’t even want those jobs. I thought Trump was gonna bring back the great jobs like coal mines, steel mills and furniture factories? Get the white pillbillies to go out west and pick lettuce.

        • Mr J

          He’s been president for 2 weeks,snowflake. And from the looks of it,that lower corporate tax rate is going to bring alot of well paying jobs in

          • secondlife

            That’s my whole point. If these better jobs supposedly come back, we will need immigrants even more, because most Americans will not choose hard manual labor 6 days a week as their first job choice. But with all the tariffs we’re gonna get, and banning free trade, and the GOP’s paralysis on overturning Obamacare regulations, I don’t have much hope any jobs will come back.

          • Mr J

            LEGAL immigrants. Obamacare is a disaster. Even Bill Clinton said so. Ive seen what its done to our families healthcare costs. I pay alot of taxes, I dont need to be subsidizing others health ins costs as well

          • secondlife

            Fact is, millions of illegal immigrants made it here under a broken system & an open border, have already built lives & families & own property here. They would have nothing & nowhere to go back to if they were deported, except poverty & crime in the countries they came from. We have to find a way to let them at least have legal work permits & pay taxes. There is no other humane option.

          • Mr J

            Join the military and help build the wall is a good start

          • secondlife

            The wall is a massive waste of time & money to add to the national debt. I guess Trump doesn’t know about drones & helicopters.

          • Rusty

            What is your problem?, your one of those individuals out there that is protesting against the American people in the same breath proclaim to be American. Take your anti-American rants to other blogs. We are trying to have & intelligent conversation here & don’t care for your anti-American rant. Get a real job & stop trolling to find where to spew your hateful American rants.

          • secondlife

            I was born here. I don’t have to agree with everything that goes on in this country. Unlike most of you I work in the industry & actually know immigrants, legal & illegal, from all over the world. If you think this industry can survive without them, or that it would ever be possible to detain & deport the 20-30 million here without papers, you & Kellyanne Conway can go have an alternate facts party.

          • afleet

            That was humane what happened to Kate Steinle

          • secondlife

            Sure throw in the one case that gets demagogued to death by O’Reilly. People are stastically more likely to be killed by lawn mowers and lightning than by an immigrant.

        • Inkboy95

          If Trump brought back Jesus Christ people like you would still complain. I’m more than sure you must house feed and take care of many illegals and refugees. Talk the talk walk the walk!

          • Mr J

            Not to get political I’m all for helping refugees……AFTER we take care of our vets,our poor,our homeless. And then they get to the back of the line for citizenship and benefits

          • secondlife

            Immigrants don’t come here to lay around on welfare. They come here to work. I don’t need to take care of one, they do just fine taking care of themselves AND their families back home.

          • Mr J

            So they make untaxed income here and send money back home. So our economy takes a double hit

          • secondlife

            If the govt didn’t make it so hard & almost impossible to be a legal immigrant & get a work permit, they COULD be paying taxes into the economy. But since politicians want to pander to the loud anti-immigrant crowd and not do what makes sense with immigration reform, I guess most will continue to live in the shadows with their un-taxed income.

          • Lawrence R

            Fact….They pay plenty of taxes. Sounds to me like you need a job. Try working in a restaurant you can take one of those dishwashing positions . Oh I forgot all the good jobs in the kitchen are taken by those nasty illegals
            By the way, what ever happened to Drumps tax returns?

          • Mr J

            Trump isn’t releasing his tax returns. No need to.Do you even file,Lorenzo ? Another guy that hates white males. Now blocked

          • Lawrence R

            He’s not complaining. He is stating a fact, not the alternate truth.

        • billy

          C’mon are you serious do you realize the amount of tradesmen that work in this country most of that is hard manual work

          • secondlife

            Skilled trades pay better than the hard manual labor of crop farms, horse farms, and working at a racetrack.

          • billy

            Yea and they take that money back home and live better then I ever will don’t take this as judgemental I think we all are equal but listen these guys come in pack several people in apartments live like hoboes for the time their here and take that tax free money back home and live like kings or send that money home for there family to live better then the working class people in this country

          • secondlife

            The immigrant version of living like a king is not the US standard of living like a king. If people were honest, they would admit there is some prejudice going on here with the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Even back in the 1960s, central and western NC was a hotbed of Klan activity. I don’t pretend to think that racism is dead in the US.

          • billy

            Racism is far from dead in the US and its damn ridiculous…..I judge no-one based on color or country I see animal as equal to human for that matter…I’ve met plenty of imigrant workers being a carpenter I’ve seen plenty of guys on visas houses their car nicer things then what I own essentially its cheaper living is what it comes down to its cheaper in Mexico then us plain and simple and that is what allows them to live like kings

          • Lawrence R

            Oh yes, it is alive and well. Never did go away, Trump just stirred the pot and up it came. Four years of Obama was just too much for them to take
            and now they are on a roll. I’m not saying his approval rating of 65% when he left office helped their case either. Imagine 30 % points higher then the good ole white boy Bush.

          • Lawrence R

            Danm !!! I sure do wish I was an illegal alien. I had no idea they had it so good. Sorry to hear your life is so miserable . Explains a lot about you and your rants.

      • Ashley yodice

        Actually, my dad wanted to see what the racetrack was about (has horse experience) and was looking for a little job to pass the time.

        So i took him around monmouth to get him a hot walking job.

        He walked around for a month and no one would hire him.

        • AngelaFromAbilene

          Having spent the better part of the past 40+ years on the backside, I find that very hard to believe.

          • Ashley yodice

            Truth hurts.

          • MA

            I believe her. It took me months to find a hotwalking job, and only then because of a friend. Some people who said they didn’t have an opening had new two-year-olds and new people appear soon after that. They immediately look at me and assume I’m a lazy white person and can’t speak Spanish.

          • Fred and Joan Booth

            At our local track there are always people`s postings looking for ANY position to work in.After galloping horses for FREE for several months, the outrider finally admitted that the local horse people did not want any more licensed persons of any category unless they were owners / trainers! We were born in this state and have started many young thoroughbreds for several well known breeders / owners and even they had difficulties licensing family members who were as good as riders as we are.

      • Minneola

        I knew high school kids in the rural areas close to where I live and were thrilled with those fast food jobs that they got. Why? It meant that they didn’t have to go out into the fields working long hours and exposed to both the elements (rain, hot sun) as well as pesticides/herbicides. But, these were kids of immigrant families from south of the border. The native-borns? Wouldn’t dream of doing that kind of work, either in the fields or fast food. Agriculture is very dependent on those immigrant workers. Used to have the bracero program. What happened to that?

    • Bubba

      that is B.S. there are people out there that will do the work. They need to be trained. When the Mexicans come in to a barn, they usually have done the work or have a relative that will school them which makes it easy on the trainers. You give them the easy, lesser horses until they learn. Where as a new American worker comes in they might not have any experience or someone in the barn to school them and it becomes more of a headache to get them in to it. Believe me if they went away the work would still get done, maybe a little time to adjust. Possible for racetracks or horsemen groups to have seminars and vocational schooling or even through local school systems. Not winning yet but on the way. Seems like the democrats are on the gate crew and are delaying our start. We might be wining yet, but you all already lost! (get over it)

      • kuzdal

        Bubba,

        There may be people who are willing to do the work. I think the question, given the current politics, is where are you going to find help that can – legally – do the job ?

        Passing that initial threshold, is there any mechanism that will elevate them beyond this (let’s be honest) smelly, entry-level test? Not that I’m aware of. With that in mind, my question about “winning” is as much about the value we assign to a human life as much as the value gleaned from their labor.

        The election’s over. Got it.

        • Bubba

          They are out there. Just a little quicker to claim workmens comp, unemployment and always sick the day after payday. I personally saw this coming and overtime have shifted to resident aliens working on citizenship and good old country girls. But I personally haven’t found an American male worth a nickel.

          Here is the sad part, they just don’t get the chance because of the time needed to school them. When a trainer sponsors a work visa through a lawyer, there is a set of forms to fill out and regulations to follow. Including an add in a paper advertising for the job opening. The add is bull. There are Legal Americans who answer these adds all the time, but the job is already filled with the foreign worker and they don’t want to hire the inexperienced American. Look around the areas where tracks are in the classified and you will see, try to answer and they will either ignore you or tell you the job is filled. The add is all B.S. just there because of the regulation to do this when sponsoring a foreign worker. A lot of trainers reading this now might be cringing because they know it is all true.

        • afleet

          there are millions of high school dropouts. Cut the freebies and those jobs will fill quickly

          • Bubba

            I agree, Ive had some good ole white boys who knew they could make as much on unemployment with state benefits as they could working the cold up north winters. If the freebies from the government weren’t there, they would have been at work.

          • Charles Smith

            A LOT of the high school dropouts you reference who are on “freebies” like SSI, SSDI and food stamps are not hispanic or black, live in places like West Virginia, the eastern part of Kentucky and the southwestern part of Virginia, all areas that went strongly for Trump, apparently in the hope he would put them back to work. Good luck with that. I’m not black, I’m not hispanic, but I did spend three summers mucking out stalls and walking hots at Ruidoso Downs and I found out just how demanding that work is. Forget about manditory lunch periods or rest breaks, I learned all too well the expectations for backside workers. I learned firsthand how demanding the work is, so I’m not surprised american born people want nothing to do with backstretch work.

          • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

            I am an owner, I just retired my last horse, waiting for an opportunity for another TB. I was on the backstretch 3 x weekly for 2-3 hours. I walked my horse and other horses, occasionally mucked stalls if there was a need. I helped with feeding. All because I enjoyed being with horses. The work is not that hard. 8 out of 10 hot walkers had their heads buried in their cell phones as they walked the horses — accident waiting to happen. Again the work is not that hard in my opinion

          • Rusty Shackelford

            Well I guess now you know why you were always being told to go to school & educate yourself. Self inflicted wound & you want to make better pay Educate yourself and get off pitty train. Hard work is in every profession not just back stretch work. Get use to working hard, way of life no matter your job.

          • Lawrence R

            Rusty. What do you do, just sit on your fat behind and criticize other people on the internet? How dare you stupidly give Charles Smith advice on hard work and education. This man wrote that he did the hard woek for 3 summers and knows how it feels. For all we know it was a summer job between school semesters or for that matter he did the job and moved on to bigger and better things. No where do I hear him griping or having self pity OH ! I get it .He mentioned your hero the Trumpster. I respect Charles
            for his insight. You sir should and will wake up in due time.

        • Rusty Shackelford

          Kuzdal don’t worry about what America’s will step up to do the job, it will get done, the bigger issue is stopping the use of undocumented individuals & these individuals that hire them knowing they are breaking the law & now it has become & epidemic that is ruining the very fabric of America. The ones doing harm to the industry are the very ones running it. Crack down on the employer & the rest will get rectified legally. What made you think we wouldn’t enforce our Immigration laws…..

          • Lawrence R

            You should run for President. Your speil is just as good as Trumps.
            Pure nonsense.

      • Charles Smith

        If there is any action taken by the Feds that greatly reduces the number of LEGAL backstretch workers from Mexico and Central America, the results will be disasterous, not just in certain regions of the country, but all over. I recall when the California HBPA used to run ads for backstretch help, very few of the newbies lasted more than a few days. It was’nt unusual for people to work for a day or even a few hours and throw in the towel. Any talk about Americans embracing stable work is “Alternative Truth”

        • afleet

          cut the freebies and they won’t have a choice

      • thomas cook

        Absolutely right

      • Rusty Shackelford

        Well said, now that was a very intelligent response that says it all… Kudos to you Bubba….

    • Mr J

      I am

    • afleet

      yes; have you seen those huge stock market gains! MAGA!!!

  • Peter Scarnati

    Interesting. About $450 (assuming about 40 hours) a week isn’t all that much better than what I recall was being paid in the late ’80’s and 90’s for grooms, especially. Sure seems to me like pay for the help hasn’t nearly kept pace with explosion in purses since that time, let alone day rates for trainers. Dozens of tracks with slots-bloated purses pay as much as 10 times more in purses than they did 20 years ago. So very interesting that the pay for the workers hasn’t kept pace….

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      Day rates haven’t risen much either.

      • Ashley yodice

        Tell Todd that..

        • Mr J

          You’re owning Angie,lol

        • afleet

          my trainer at Parx charges $4k per month per horse-at Parx!!!! For those that are math challenged-thats $48k per year. Look at the Parx past perfomances and see how many horses are earning $48k per year-thats just the break even amount not counting additional Vet exspenes

          • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

            1) At $4K / month you are getting ripped off.
            2) if you are keeping your horse at Parx for 12 months of training, I feel sorry for that horse 1:14 6f Alw race one week then 1:11 next. Grounds crew does not know how to maintain a safe/consistent surface.

          • That is an understatement
            And they wonder why there are so many “one and done” owners, hope he is getting a jug of vetlube with that Bill “skrew the newbe ” strikes again

    • Mr J

      Higher purses should mean higher wages. It’s common sense capitalism. Someone is screwing alot of someones

    • Charles Smith

      Don’t tell me, Mr.”I hate alternative gaming”, it’s all the fault of instant racing.

  • McGov

    I guess.. you didn’t see this coming ???! If you think horse racing has a labour problem hahahah wait until the full weight of these policies hit agriculture in general.
    Prices will increase across the board. When domestic labour takes over for illegal immigrants in a meaningful way, we will see a very different world, then today.
    It’s a painful process but IMO very necessary…..for me, it is about equal rights not right wing ideals. This issue of practically having an enslaved work force willing to work endlessly for peanuts and no rights needs to come to an end.
    And now it will :))))))

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      People have no idea how high their food prices are going go.

      • McGov

        The government will supplement agriculture further (than they already do) and take on some of this burden…..but it will definitely translate into higher grocery bills.

    • secondlife

      Domestic labor won’t take over for immigrant labor in a meaningful way. Georgia tried kicking out immigrants years ago (with a law that was later overturned) and the only result was they lost millions of dollars in food crops that year. Apparently the poor unemployed welfare recipients in GA were not in a hurry to run down to south GA and pick crops.

      • McGov

        I’m not aware of what happened in Georgia. But my guess is that this situation is entirely different. The issue is coming to a head. Out of pure necessity, the options are likely to be either revert back… OR……make working in agriculture just like any other job in America. Pay them and protect them. Don’t treat them like slaves and domestic labour will jump at the chance.
        But obviously the reason this hasn’t happened decades ago is because it will cost BILLIONS.
        Nevertheless…..America elected a President that made clear he would do this and so now it is time to pay the piper.

        • secondlife

          The easiest solution would be to let the immigrants who have been here for years & already have jobs get a legal work permit & start paying taxes and fall under the same workplace safety protections as everyone else. Most people have no idea what the deportation process means, or how expensive & time consuming it would be for the taxpayers to foot the bill for it. Polls have shown that most Americans don’t want non-criminal immigrants to get deported and don’t agree with all of the extreme plans for immigration. Believe me, losing the immigrant workers would devastate horse racing.

          • McGov

            It has happened here in Canada but in different ways. There was a significant labour shortage in horse racing about 15 years ago and what happened was wages increased for about a year by about 20%….until a new policy was developed allowing import workers on limited contracts.
            The oil boom in Alberta is another example. HUGE labour shortage was resolved by stealing labour from agriculture. Farm works jumped at going from $12/ hr to $30/hr….with little skill and no education.
            The market always finds solutions because demand dictates a resolution. What that solution might be will be interesting to see…..guess I’ll have to get twitter to find out ;)

          • Mr J

            Military for 4 years or help build the wall. Then you can become a citizen. In what world should illegals get preference or equality over legal immigrants who went through the process and paid their dues to do it the right way.

          • secondlife

            If 20 million illegals paid even just a $1,000 penalty fine to get a work permit, it would provide 20 billion in revenue that could be used for a lot of things like paying down the debt.

          • Mr J

            Thats .1% of debt. The cost of them dwarfs that

          • secondlife

            Illegals can’t get any welfare benefits. They don’t have valid SS numbers. I’m pretty sure the white Americans on welfare & the black gangs killing each other cost the country a lot more than immigrants ever have.

          • Mr J

            It used to be that ALL immigrants were ineligible for benefits for 5 years. They had to have a sponsor.Illegals using the ER is a big drain on healthcare

          • secondlife

            These days with fewer people being able to afford health insurance, there are a LOT of people who are a big drain on healthcare. Medicare, Medicaid, and the entire ACA are draining healthcare.

        • Bryan Langlois

          I agree give legal workers all the chance in the world to come in and do the agriculture jobs. Here is what I see with that though in some ways. If we pay them and protect them, how many will be out on disability because of back injuries or other ailments that come from a hard days labor in the field. My guess is less than 10% who sign up would survive more than a month in those fields under the current conditions. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, but I just feel that society today (and especially the millennial generation that is coming into the workforce) do not know the value of hard work as they have never had to do it for results. Hope I am proved wrong but I doubt it.

          • McGov

            The problem you described shouldn’t be a problem. Before industrial workers were protected through legislation ( before the 70’s there was nothing) they too were abused and overworked.
            Simply protect agriculture workers in the same way. Don’t ask them to lift 100 lbs by themselves…teach them to work in teams and restrict load maximums. And so on and so on. This isn’t that hard but it is hard to get our heads around this much change at the same time. IMO, and I’m not only a professional that protects workers but I also come from several generations of old school farming……this is not that hard to do. We just need to change the way we look at this type of work. And we need to be fair instead of expecting the desperate working class to simply put up and shut up. They deserve the same rights as everyone.

          • Bryan Langlois

            Oh I agree with you on that, and I know it can be done. I am talking more of the general desire of the average American today to even want to do it if it were as you described. They are just mostly apathetic to it. A sad state of affairs. Look at all the industries out there looking for skilled labor that will pay great wages and offer great benefits…and no one wants the jobs because they don’t want to actually work. It is going to be scary when the Millennial generation comes of the age where they are going to be held accountable for things and have no one to turn to blame but themselves, and then not know how to deal with it because they have never had to before when they were younger.
            Like I said, I do think there are a lot of systems out there already that would not make this work too hard for people to do, I would just like to see the drive for people to actually want to do it.

          • McGov

            The work ethic today is HORRIBLE among most young people. You are absolutely right. When you hire a young person that ACTUALLY cares about their job and they take pride and give their best….you almost fall over it seems so rare these days.
            We spoiled them. My son is 7 and you can be sure he won’t be one of those young adults….lemme tell ya ;) The boy knew how to muck a stall by 5….breakfast for the barn then you worry about your tummy…type thing.
            Tough roads ahead for sure.

    • Bryan Langlois

      I never understood why there could not be bands of prison workers who could go out and work the fields. Give them a job out there that basically costs the farmer nothing. I am sure many of the lower level offenders would relish the time outdoors and, yeah, maybe be forced into a little hard labor for their crimes. However, it would be better than them sitting in a jail cell all day not contributing to society in any way. We have already seen how this helps prisoners who work with horses and other animals. Why can’t we do it in the fields that need the labor.

      • secondlife

        Probably liability issues. If they get injured or hurt they could sue. And the risk of escaping inmates. And I bet they would not want violent inmates having access to sharp or pointy farm equipment.

        • kyle

          Plus, any time a scantily dressed woman washes a car nearby work will come to a complete halt. And you can’t have them around eggs because they’ll steal them and conduct egg eating contests.

          • secondlife

            They would probably steal everything.

          • Bryan Langlois

            You can only steal so much lettuce or strawberries.

          • Rusty Shackelford

            Immigration issues need to be dealt with first & foremost very big problem that is creating all these issues we are having today & for quite a while now. Deport them all here undocumented breaking our American laws exploiting our people & country before we can move forward again as one.

          • Mr J

            If I see a scantily clad woman washing a car,my work will come to a halt. Yours and every other males will too.

          • ridingtowin

            Anything so innocent and built like that just gotta be named Lucille.

        • Bryan Langlois

          I’m not talking about violent inmates…just ones there for lesser offenses. Yes, I also see your point on the liability issues and the escape. Of course chain gangs would be one way to stop escape…but I think they have been ruled cruel and unusual punishment when Georgia tried to bring them back some years ago. Although, that was just having them do things like break rocks, not harvest crops.

        • Ashley yodice

          Why not? Theyre on the highways picking up garbage here in soflo, or breaking mustangs to be rehomed.

          And trust me, walking across the street in soflo is worse than a mustang.

          Pedestrian deaths are through the roof here.

          • Ashley yodice

            Edit: the mustang program in western states

      • McGov

        I wouldn’t be surprised to see that as part of the resolution package. But again, I reiterate, we need to get to the root of the problem and that is equal pay and rights for agriculture workers…IMO.

      • Mr J

        There are farms for minimum security prisoners and ones that are soon to be released

      • Larry Sterne

        I think you would see fav farmers benefit from cheap labor and the farmer who has not buddies w warden get shut out. Another case of one getting the gold mine the other get the shaft. Most prisons shou lb d be able to farm food on prison property.

      • AngelaFromAbilene

        It’s a liability issue. As wards of the state, “We the People” are liable for any injuries inmates and detainees incur, as well as any damages they may inflict. There are prison farms on state land and as I understand it, being on a field crew is somewhat of a reward.

      • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

        OMG Doc, I have often argued this. Build a virtual wall by eliminating open jobs. Somehow get parents of all classes to stop pampering there children with cars, tuition and a roof to nearly age 30. And, employ inmates, pay them decently, take 1/3rd of their pay for the roof over their heads. Rest goes into an account for when their sentence is complete. Give tax breaks to those employers who train the inmates (landscapers, farmers, trainers, breeders).lots more.
        Can’t make the meeting on 28th but keep fighting

  • DanM

    Revenue from casino subsidies and artificially low labor costs. It is difficult to be optimistic about racing when the business is a farce on multiple fronts.

    Are there “company store” arrangements where the migrant workers are charged exorbitant prices for room, board and meals ?

    At a wage of $10.85 an hour, Dale Romans stable could consist of Java Programmers from India.

    • AngelaFromAbilene

      No. Providing room and board is a standard practice.

  • secondlife

    Getting rid of “illegal” immigrants will not be a good thing for horse racing. Even if salaries were higher and everybody got more vacation time, it would still be a transient industry where people would have to move around every few months, and live in tack rooms or dorms. Most Americans who have families & want a stable place to live can NOT work a job like that.

    Even a lot of farm workers come from other countries. And you might be surprised to know how many exercise riders don’t have their papers. And THAT is NOT a job that most fat overweight Americans could ever do!

    I’ve always thought the racing industry should have spent more time lobbying for the good kind of immigration reform, instead of obsessing over drugs and OTTB aftercare. If they wipe out your immigrant workforce, believe me it would devastate the industry more than a legislative ban on gambling ever would.

    • Mr J

      Obama got rid of 2.5 million illegals in 8 years which works out to 1,000/week. Nothing going to change,despite all the hysteria

      • secondlife

        An article at the daily signal said the 11 million illegal immigrants in the US figure always quoted in the media is outdated and inaccurate. The real number is more like 20-30 million, nobody even knows for sure. It would be a financial, logistical, & humanitarian nightmare to try and deport all of them.

      • brussellky

        That is a phony statistic. If one person tried to cross the border 4 times in a day, and got caught each time, it counted as 4 deportations. Previous to the last administration, anyone caught even trying to cross 1 time was not considered a deportation if they were caught at the border.

        • Mr J

          Correct,I thought about that after

    • Exhausted Race Fan

      I agree with you people will find it difficult to follow the racing circuit once they want to start a family. I disagree that it’s restricted to American citizen families. To say most “overweight Americans couldn’t be exercise riders” is where you start insulting people of any and all nationalities. Not everyone could be a nurse or a dentist but some enjoy the work. When you say “The racing industry should have spent more time lobbying for the good kind of immigration reform, instead of obsessing over drugs and OTTB aftercare” makes me hear you care more about the cost to keep those annoying horses healthy and and retired safely than you do the reason the sport exists.

      • secondlife

        No the point was that without the mostly immigrant workforce, there wouldn’t be many horses left to take care of in the first place, and maybe people should be just as concerned with what happens to the humans.

        • Exhausted Race Fan

          Immigrant vs. intending to stay illegal immigrant for years doesn’t mean Americans don’t care about humans. It means we ask that you respect the laws and you are welcome just like the majority of countries with an infrastructure that wants to help people when injured, sick or elderly. We can’t do that once we hit a tipping point of too many intentionally scamming the taxpaying legal citizens with no intention of paying back into it. The laws exist for all businesses horse racing is not and shouldn’t be an exception.

          • secondlife

            Learn about how hard & expensive & time consuming it is to be a legal immigrant, compared to how much easier it was before Congress passed the late 90s “reform” law with its massive penalties and 10 year bans. Most of these people WOULD like to become legal and be allowed to travel back & forth to see their families. The economy is at a breaking point because of bad economic policy & nation building in Iraq, not because of immigrants. They are always an easy scapegoat when the economy sucks. Same thing happened after the Great Depression.

    • brussellky

      You were making a reasonable point until you said losing the immigrant workforce would devastate the industry more than a gambling ban. With a gambling ban, the industry dies the next day as that is where ALL the funding comes from.

      • secondlife

        Considering that no gambling bans are currently being considered anywhere, the chances of that happening are nil. But the threat of losing half your workforce IS a real possibility.

    • Fred and Joan Booth

      Those overweight people would lose their weight FAST trying to ride an energetic race horse! At our local tracks we would love to have tack rooms / dorms to sleep in! Our local metro area county prohibits even sleeping or resting in a chair let alone a couch or cot in a tack room! They have regular sweeps / patrols by security to enforce the county rule. Many older/ tired owners / workers drive to the truck stop a couple of miles away and sleep / rest in their vehicles.

  • Inkboy95

    Hey Dale maybe you should pay these people a living wage. Then you can attract American workers. And yes I have worked on the backstretch.

  • BobF

    No offense to trainers but they don’t operate like a normal business. They don’t want to be held to labor laws which are 40 hours a weeks with lunch breaks and regular breaks. Have you ever seen a trainer tell one of his guys take a break or lunch? I’ve seen trainers pay a hot walker $20 cash for the morning then if they get hurt tell them to wait one day while they call their insurance agent and add them to the payroll so they can get workers comp the next day when they are an actual employee.

    I’m not saying all trainers are like this but I believe you could find plenty of guys who are Americans to work on farms and stables.

    • secondlife

      Most racetracks have training during morning hours only, which is why most work is done all at once in the morning. But even in a busy barn people can often squeeze in short breaks in between sets. Truth is, it is actually not possible to find a lot of Americans who are NOT drug addicts to do work like this. We need the immigrants to replace all the white people dropping like flies from heroin & pain pill overdoses.

      • billy

        In that case maybe we should have them take over as trainers to to keep the horses for dropping like flies from drugs that do the same thing

        • secondlife

          Horses are not dying from drugs at the same rate as heroin addicts.

          • billy

            People have a choice animals don’t and this country created that problem by doing the same as the horse industry don’t solve the problem just fix it all that leads to is more problems people becoming addicts and horses breaking down

        • Lehane

          Agree.

      • Mr J

        I was thinking I finally gound a liberal to have a civil conversation with. You lost all credibility with that crack. You are an anti-American,anti-white racist and I’m done with you. I should have known better

        • secondlife

          I’m not a liberal, stop putting people into a box based on one issue. And I am white. I can say whatever I want about my own race. I get tired of people trashing immigrants when there are plenty of home grown Americans causing more trouble & being more of a burden on the system than most immigrants ever will.

        • Lawrence R

          And you lost credibility by gounding that liberal you found. I do not think he is anti American. But I would hope he would be an anti white racist. Please don’t call me an anti American if I should disagree with you.

      • theosmachine

        SEVERAL THINGS WRONG WITH THIS POST!

      • Rusty Shackelford

        secondlife Your giving yourself away with your anti American B.S. all that is being stated is fact & these issues are now on the table & will get resolved the American way. Laws means,something to American people & it’s time to enforce them & all this put down of us Americans by these law breakers is at the forefront & are being dealt with accordingly.

        • Lawrence R

          Thats right Randy. You would have made a really good brown shirt. Second life told it as it is. Have you ever even been on the backstretch? I did not read anything anti American in his statement at all. Did you go to school Randy? Start reading and inform yourself.Adolf knew how to deal with lawbreakers.

          • kyle

            Oh, good try. Unfortunately you’re too late. Another idjet down thread used a Nazi reference before you. Thanks for playing though and being the good little progressive parrot that you are.

        • secondlife

          I am a white American. Laws can be changed & revised, especially when they are obviously not working. Interracial marriage used to be against “the law” & so was helping blacks escape slavery. The law is not always right. I used to be indifferent and apathetic to the plight of illegal immigrants, until I actually met some & started working with them. Deporting people for any reason other than violent & dangerous crimes is inhumane & creates widows & orphans & tears families apart.

    • SteveD

      Not where I’m from.
      Major agriculture and major race track here. You can’t find “local” people who CAN work all day, much less want to.

      • BobF

        You said it best “all day.” Nobody works all day and doesn’t get paid for it. A lot of people in the horse racing industry take advantage of the immigrants they hire and work them all day and every day and say they shouldn’t be held to same labor laws that all businesses are held to. If trainers and farms are worried about the current state of the enforcement of our immigration policies it’s because they have been able to exploit these workers for years and they won’t have them anymore and all they care about are themselves.

        • secondlife

          The Dept of Labor has said that agricultural work is not required to pay overtime. If you have an issue with that, complain to the feds not the horse farms. Racetracks are commercial and do fall under overtime pay requirements. Most trainers give stakes bonuses or extra pay for walking winners so racetrack pay is usually better per hour than farm pay.

          • BobF

            I’m not sure working at a thoroughbred farm is considered “agriculture” as it is defined under federal law. I know a barn at a racetrack isn’t.

          • Lawrence R

            Bob you don’t seem to be sure of anything. Besides your double negatives are making it difficult to follow you.> ” Nobody works all day and doesnt get paid for it.” Labor laws do exist in Calif. and racetrack employers are required to follow them. Same thing in N.Y. Workmans comp , disability benefits. unemployment insurance are all required. I’m sure some trainers
            cheat when they can. Happens in every industry. Why are you so worried about this subject? Are you out of work? Get up at 4am and go out to your nearest racetrack I’m sure you are qualified. It’s hard work the pay is low but it is the American way.

          • kyle

            You couldn’t follow that? Very complex sentence. By the way, guess you didn’t read the article. It’s implied by the writer that top CA trainers employ illegal workers. Then again maybe you did read it and it was just beyond your limited comprehension.

          • Lawrence R

            Dimwit Kyle got it all wrong again.That was not a complex sentence . It was a convoluted sentence. Follow the thread and you will see what I referred to. Now, implied does not mean it is true although I am sure it has some validity . The whole point Romans was referring to was the limiting of a certain status of legal workers coming into the country which in turn will force trainers to hire illegal aliens. or simply shut down. It’s simple economics. There is no way the racing or farm industry can pay the wages that an unemployed American would demand or for that case be entitled to.

          • kyle

            Sorry, didn’t realize English isn’t your first language. Convoluted means needlessly complex. That sentence is neither, but I guess to those with 4th grade comprehension and vocabulary levels….As to Romans, he tries not to make coherent points lest the listener see through his hypocrisy and demonization. As to not being able to pay market wages…I love horseracing but c’est la vie. The industry has made its bed.

          • secondlife

            I have worked at both. Breeding farms are minimum 48 hours a week, with NO time and a half overtime being paid for the 40 to 48 hours.

    • Lawrence R

      That sounds like a good guy trainer. At least he was looking out for the poor guy trying to pick up a few bucks. Depending on the state. his workman comp rate would go up, Many employers simply would have sent him on his way , assuming he could still walk.

  • Flint King

    The only reason they are dependent on migrant labor is because they pay disgustingly low wages.. plenty of Americans would work these jobs if they would make more than a bowl of peanuts at the end of the week

    • Mr J

      Bingo

    • secondlife

      Racetrack pay is generally better than the breeding farms. Farm jobs are 48 hours a week or more during breeding season, and many farms make people work night breeding sessions. Agricultural jobs have no requirements for overtime pay, but you can thank the Dept of Labor for that.

      It’s not just the pay. Race track workers have to pack up everything they own and move around all year. Only CA and South Florida have almost year round racing at one track. Most Americans won’t do that.

      • billy

        Ny pa md all almost year round

  • anne russek

    a classic example of “reap what you sow” Back in the early seventies, the west coast thoroughbred trainers starting hiring illegal Mexicans. They changed the whole standard of horse care on the track. The previous norm was one groom for three horses, or one groom for four horses and you made extra money. The Mexicans were hired to groom five horses for the same pay as three horses. The California trainers quickly filled their barns with all Mexican help, many times with only one or two workers being able to speak english. These two employees would be the mouthpiece for the trainer to the other employees. The west coast trainers gloated about the money they were saving with the Mexican help and the east coast trainers slowly followed suit. I worked at Monmouth Park in the seventies and there was no shortage of legal help at the track. But once trainers started trying to make the legal workers take on extra horses to groom and stopped paying a fair wage, the legal workers had no recourse but to leave the tracks and farms. Ironically, twebty years later the illegal help woke up and realized that the American trainers had depleted the legal workforce which than put the illegal workforce into a position of bargaining for higher wages since if they walked out, the trainers had no one to turn to. All of a sudden, tracks lobbied for child care for workers and health benefits as well as better backstretch living accomodations. None of these perks had ever been offered to legal workers before .Another irony is that no one ever petitioned for the women workers on the track to have equal pay and living quarters…..This issue has been brought up before, and trainers across America ignored what they had created and just kept hiring illegals and staying one step ahead of the law. I recall Ogden Phipps bringing this issue up more than once. England and Ireland are two good examples of countries that have a motivated equestrian work force. Most trainers would rather stamp their feet and cry for mercy to our immigration laws than to actually come up with a solution. After all, its what the racing industry does best, create problems.

  • Larry Ensor

    Market forces dictate everything. When I was a groom in the early 70s I was paid $150+ a week to rub 3 horses. In today’s money that is over $800, over $41,000 a year. For a lot of grooms it was career not just a job. As is the case with the majority of “grooms” I come across these days.

    From what I understand grooms on average are paid by the horse, $100 per horse these days. Most rubbing as many as 6. Twice as many as grooms of my era. 6 is too many to do the job right.

    Being a good, competent groom requires a high skill level. Much higher than flipping burgers, Most of the grooms that have passed through my barn are lacking those skills. We start people at $10 per hour for a 5 1/2 day week. With most it is easy to tell that it is only a matter of time before they don’t show up and or move on. I used to take a lot of my time to mentor, teach them skills that will in the future allow them to move on to better things. I don’t bother anymore.

    The average purse that horses are running for has not nearly kept up with inflation and the dramatic rise in fixed cost. Which it makes it very difficult for the average trainers, those that train the majority of horses can charge per day.

    In 1973 the purse for the Kentucky Derby was $125,000 added. In today’s money that is around $675,000. In 2016 just under $2,400,000.

    The purses for the average Allowance races today are worth less when adjusted for inflation then they were in 1973.

    This is crazy. The vast majority of horses run for “average money”. 1% run for the largest piece of the pie.

    Owners only end up with 40% of the prize money as it is. Plus a % of the cost of doing business is passed on in nickel and dime fees.

    Market forces do not allow the majority of trainers to increase their per day fees. So as to pay proper wages. Owners are hard enough to come by as is. There is NO shortage of decent horses. There is a severe shortage of owners.

    As the CEO of GM said not long after the economic meltdown; “There seems to be a lack of demand for our product and or services”

    • gus stewart

      That explanation to me makes sense. With every other sport, besides i guess nfl cheerleaders salaries and some benifits have increased. Fyi i have no compassion for the cheerleaders, any women that chooses to work in that capacity for the nfl get what they get. But racing needs more media driven exposure to attract more owners, this could increase revenue and help with living conditions for those on the backside. But racings leadership has been list in a time warp and have no clue currently how to complete with other sports.

  • thomas cook

    I was born into racing. Now 43, I have been a licensed trainer since 1996 in NEW England. Embattled by debt, I switched to an assistant in 2000. First with Billy Badgett of the Woody Stevens system, then to Frank A Alexander in 9/11 era to 03. Military. Equine science. I returned to racing in 2013. Maker. Then Albertrani. Then Matz. The purseshave exploded in almost every venue. Assistants make almost double now. Riders also have seen increases. But not grooms or hot walkers. WHY? Americans will work for fair wages. And their are qualified workers available to fill these jobs. But companies who are supposed to advertise these visa positions do NOT due to their desire to keep perrenial visas in their systems. Meanwhile many overstayed visas clog our racetracks illegally. Supporting families in foreign countries, building homes, all the while living virtually free here. It’s gone on too long. Why should an American citizen who is qualified not earn a fair wage. Grooms work more hours in many Barns than anyone. But are paid less because these illegals are working for what they believe is kings wages by standards in their own countries. The employers want more in their pockets. They charge day rate up to $200 in dome cases. Get performance bonuses from purse percentages…but do not pay an experienced horseman an honest wage in the Barns. It’s true. It’s uncontested…but nobody writes about it. What about an Americans right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness. This topic does not just apply to Mexicans. Look at how many Euros are here, in top positions, making a lot more than in their native lands of England, Ireland, Australia..etc…They and the illegals and overstayed visas cry foul. As do certain types employers not wanting to pay a fair wage. But who cries for Americans wanting a better life…report on this truth. Please. Thank you.

    • Den Jay

      You are kidding mate…Making a lot more there than Australia…Average full time salary in Australia is $78 8000 per year.Our minimum wage is $17. 70 per week. Full time get 10 paid sick days per year and at least 20 days annual leave.I have been given up to 32 days annual leave.

      • thomas cook

        Then why have I heard..first hand..from Aussies, Brits, French, as well as Irish. The hours are longer. A worker usually grooms, saddles, exercises their own horses. For less than they make here. Doing three jobs for the wages of one. Then. Come here. Either GROOM, exercise, assist, for more than they would back home doing three jobs. It’s also been published..my statements in articles about United Kingdom industry. As there is a shortage of help. The only venue I have been involved in…is in Dubai..where all expenses are paid by employers..AND one can make a handsome salary. I’ve seen first hand.. Folks complain how hard the life is and how poor the wages are in my aforementioned nations.. Yet..when they come here… They get spoiled n lazy. I’ve SEEN IT. All the while complaining how Americans are not willing…bull!

        • Den Jay

          Well Thomas, you only to check the facts yourself…So you are telling me your stable hands there can earn $40 per hour for a Sunday ? A normal working week of 38 hrs pays over $600 per week, but seeing as most stablehands work Weekends and have their day off in the week, they get double time Sunday and time and a half Saturday. So are you going to tell me they pay better there now…The award rate here means a trainer must pay a full time adult on a Sunday almost $33 per hour and a casual almost $41 per hour. The pay rate then goes up with experience a tier 1 gets higher a tier 2 gets even higher.

        • Den Jay

          Stable hand award paid in Australia for an adult on commencement is $692 for a 38 hr week, overtime for first 3 hr is a minimum of $ 35 per hour after that is goes up to a minimum of $44 per hour, that is the lowest end if the scale…Seeing as lot work Sundays and have a day off within the week Sunday rate is $35 for a full time worker and $44 for a casual going up to closer to $ 50 for a tier 2 stablehand. You may have heard it from the Brits, French and Irish because we pay a lot more than they do but if it was an Aussie he had his facts wrong…

        • Den Jay

          Also i note the Aussies among the others are overstaying their visa’s and get spoiled and lazy there…According to you…

      • brussellky

        You Aussies are apparently not good with math. How can the average salary be A$78,800 per year when your minimum wage is A$17.70 per week? If your statement is correct, you have more people making 7 figures per year than anyone else to pump the average up that high with the minimum wage you describe.

        • Den Jay

          Your math is obviously not too good…Minimum wage….Like the kid who has his first job at McDonalds or the like….Very few people pay the minimum wage, they pay higher…My information is 100% correct…

          • brussellky

            My math is perfect. Please see my reply to your other comment above where I provided the long math.

          • Den Jay

            2 points,Ist point;you are technically correct. 2nd point, you were not smart enough to assess it was a typo…. ;)

          • brussellky

            How was it a type-o? $1,770 times anything (daily, weekly or monthly) does not equal $36,000/year. Nice try!

          • Den Jay

            It’s not $1770 try a decimal point…I inadvertantly put $692 per week instead of $672 and edited it though didn’t edit the $36000 down to $35000 or $34 975. $17.70 p/h x 38 hr week x 52.

          • brussellky

            You initially had a decimal point. It is your position everyone should have ignored that one and read your mind thereafter?

          • Den Jay

            No it is like i do with a known typo, i use common sense and say to my self, i know what they mean….

          • brussellky

            You called it weekly. I calculated weekly and monthly allowing for the type-o. You meant hourly obviously (in Australian dollars BTW). How in the hell is it common sense to ascertain what you meant when you could not even illustrate it yourself?

          • Den Jay

            Um of course it is Australian Dollars after all it is Australia.If you come work here you ain’t gonna be paid in US $ …A minimum wage is ALWAYS stated in terms of $ per hour or that nations currency. So you being so intelligent should have deciphered that, seeing i gave you the hint of a decimal point…

          • brussellky

            You should move to America. They would probably make you the chairman of Democrat National Committee with that dodge (which is ALL they do legally). The decimal point was irrelevant based upon weekly wages (as YOU stated) regardless of US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand dollars. The comment you just made has no basis in reality. Anyone with half a brain reading this knows that and, as it is 4AM, I’m going to bed. Have a great night!

          • Den Jay

            Sleep well….Um this is getting difficult….Now let me say again i said ‘minimum wage of $17.70 per week’ . As i stated 99% of people would know a minimum wage is based on an hourly rate. Sleep well and dream about me…😊

        • Den Jay

          Also when the minimum salary here is $36 000 per annum why would the majority have to be making 7 figures $1 million plus to bring the average up to $78 800…???

          • brussellky

            You stated the minimum wage was $17.70 per week. That is $920.40 per year, not $36,000. Were you wrong (or lying) earlier or are you wrong (or lying) now? Your comments are mutually exclusive.

        • Den Jay

          We also do Geography at School and learn about the world, therefore our kids can find China on a map. If all we did was teach them about Australia we would become insular and have unrealistic views of the rest of the world.

          • brussellky

            Fair point. Our schools are horrific. The only smart people here were born that way.

        • Rusty Shackelford

          Don’t waste your time, it’s like dealing with a child not all there. He’s unemployed & it is obvious why. But you make a very intelligent & valid point.

          • Den Jay

            Rusty why are you such an i diot ? Someone disagrees with you and they are a bully ? Now apparently unemployed….Why ? It shows how childish you are, i am willing to bet i earn a lot more than you :):):) Jealous perhaps :)

    • Rusty Shackelford

      Mr. Cook I totally agree with you, the reason the industry wants to keep these on work visas is because they exploit the hell out the them by severely under paying them which in turn means more $$$ for their pockets. This exploitation of these immigrant workers has got to stop. It is ruining our country & our industry in a whole & is denying hard working Americans opportunities to work as hot walkers & grooms because why pay & American proper wages when they can bring in these immigrants that take the abuse by these trainers / owners / & the tracks themselves & work virtually for peanuts on the dollar. What needs to be done is someone needs to look into these practices being employeed by people like Dale Romans who speaks up boldly for these people but ask him to open up his books for payroll & most likely owes alot of money to these visa holders he is severly under paying & taking advantage of on a Daily basis. Advertise the jobs for Americans & let’s see if they get away with what they are doing to these visa holders they are taking big advantage of. Shame on these individuals hurting the industry , the American people, & these visa workers being exploited financially.

      • thomas cook

        I agree. Well spoken.

  • ridingtowin

    “….work Americans don’t want to do.”~ Dale Romans

    Here with go with this ‘work Americans don’t want to do’ bull. It’s one of the biggest lies told in America over the past couple of decades. Who do you think was doing this work before you brought in your cheap slave labor who you could abuse with low wages? And abuse any workers or human rights? That’s right, Americans! Americans were doing this work.
    But you modern day slave masters with your ever increasing greed just had to save more and more money…..and the way to go about doing that was the slave route with low wages. Something that Americans were not going to tolerate. So you dumped them. Kicked them to the curb. Experienced horse people. Some very educated. Most hard working. And dedicated. And horse knowledgeable. And they kept up to date with what was happening in the business around the country because they loved it so much. But you didn’t care. You only wanted slaves. Grunts. Workers that if quizzed couldn’t answer the most basic of questions about the horse. Workers that treat them like inanimate objects.
    I’ve been in this business since the early 70s, and I remember many many times trainers telling the help that they couldn’t afford to give them a raise, but would if the purses ever went up. And then along came the casinos and vast increases in purses at nearly every track and did the American groom or hotwalker get a raise? No, instead, they got replaced!

  • kyle

    Says the idjet making Nazi references.

  • tony a

    The only violence and hate speech comes from your side. Also when our parents and grandparents came here they weren’t given subsidies.

    • secondlife

      Immigrants don’t get subsidies. You can’t get welfare without a valid SS number

      • disqus_wZUB6w9ANy

        They get fake SS numbers

        • secondlife

          Fake SS numbers might work with some employers but not at the SS office where they would actually check it

      • tony a

        You really don’t have a clue, do you?

      • snazzygirl

        Wish that were true. The UPS labor union responded to the fake SSN one of the workers at my breeding farm bought. I was receiving all sorts of mail for him from UPS to the extent that I asked if he was moonlighting. He confessed he bought the SSN. If you think illegals don’t file tax returns under fake SSNs, get child care money from the feds and then send it off-shore, then you haven’t been watching news reports.

      • Rusty Shackelford

        Sure they do get subsidies, they steal & Americans identity get those subsidies, I know because it happened to me. You keep turning the other cheek & soon it will be you having your identity stolen, Your credit ruined all while taking years & years to try to rectify the wrong that has been done touch you. Beware you could be next

  • Scott

    People are crazy to think Americans who have never done this job will do this kind of work. Dale is correct!! It’s a labor of love. So think I’m going to go grab an American off the street and tell them hey. Would you like to work 7 days a week with no benefits for $500 a week. Sure bet you will get a lot of takers. LOL

  • kgwil

    The Immigration Reform Act of 1986 created a sudden shortage of such workers. I was watching a race replay show on KDOC when they announced that Santa Anita was recruiting hotwalkers, and had a program that would train you and place you with a trainer. I was a young girl, still living at home, was between jobs, and loved horses-so I figured why not. I worked as a hotwalker for both Santa Anita and Hollywood Park meets, but left when the trainer went to Del Mar. My work schedule was 6 days a week starting at 5:00 am, rain or shine, and long days when one of our horses had a race. I absolutely loved working with the horses, but the pay was not really enough to live on unless you stayed in the backstretch housing or tack rooms.

    • MA

      I also had to quit when they went to Del Mar, because I had nowhere to stay. Did that a few summers in a row recently. So expensive and hard for the So Cal horsemen to have to travel between the two high dollar areas, especially for those on the bottom of the payroll.

  • brussellky

    You conveniently omitted how Dale differentiated legal visa holders from illegal aliens. I wish I could say I thought you made an honest oversight but I can’t.

  • William justice

    The bottom line is we as trainers cannot pass anymore expense to the owners, the expense of keeping a horse in training is what’s killing the industry. This is why your seeing the middle and bottom of market vanish. Pure and simple, what we run for has gotten so outa whack with what we have in a horse. Putting more expense on a trainer will run at least 50 percent outa business.

  • Patriot

    Get on with the program, “fat cats” owners and trainers. Lower wage racing employees deserve to be paid more.

  • I would like to see all of backstretch workers (grooms, hot walkers, exercise riders) that were not born in America stage a 48-hour walkout. Then we will see how many of those folks who voted for Trump and his immigration policies feel about seeing racing come to a grinding half.

    • JH

      You’re going to have a lot of hungry horses and dirty stalls.

    • kyle

      “Not born in America?” Because that’s the issue. What is wrong with you people that you can’t have an honest debate? Oh, that’s right, you lose every time. That’s why Democrats run on such specifics as hope and change and whatever Clinton was about.

    • Victoria Keith

      People talk as if there are only 2 choices: “Deport them all!” or work here illegally. There is a third option, and it’s the one I support: allow more to work here legally (and everyone should be here legally). Someone smarter than me will have to advise why there seems to be zero discussion on this front.

    • Rusty Shackelford

      Barry your one of those individuals that lines your pocket with the exploitation of these immigrants that you hire to work all day everyday, no brakes no lunch 7 days a week & for peanuts,on the dollar. Your one of those individuals that considers yourself a humanitarian when in fact your a wolf in Sheeps clothing. Your one of the reason why Americans people voted in Donald Trump to represents what the American people voted him in to do, defend our country, our American people & our American jobs. I see to think you were one of the good guys but boy was I wrong….

      • kyle

        Hit that nail directly on the head.

      • Lawrence R

        Well ok Rusty you just exposed yourself. Boy !!! You are no more than another one of those idiots.duped by Trump. You are a malcontent seeking out the silver bullet solution of Donald Trump. Well I got news for you you have been hoodwinked . He”s already begun shooting blanks. True he addressed a lot of problems facing this country ,that obviously should be solved , but did so merely to get your vote . He has already begun to backtrack on his promises.
        Try to inform yourself on who he really is and was. Since this thread is on foreign workers. stick to the subject and wake up to the fact he exploited them to the max every opportunity
        he was afforded. Sorry, you are in for a rude awakening.

        • tony a

          Idiots? I guess you felt the need to say that, you must be a genius.

      • Mr J

        I never thought he was a good guy. he’s a know-it-all that thinks he’s smarter than everyone else

    • tony a

      Funny,I guess you missed who screws New York racing the most, King Coumo, bet you voted for him.

    • J. Nasium

      Couldn’t have said it any better Barry.

    • tony a

      And if you would really like to see that then you also would like to see the flood gates wide open so when they are in position let’s see you people who like the cheap labor get an awakening when it’s not so cheap and you get rolled over.

    • Quinnbt

      Dale might blow a few pounds cleaning a dozen or so stalls.
      Indian Charlie would have at least one muck tub full of new material.

    • Larry Ensor

      Barry, I don’t want to turn this into a political ideology debate. But I don’t see Trump as being anti-immigration. I don’t see and or have spoken to a lot of people that are “anti immigration”.

      What they are for is LEGAL immigration. I have a lot of friends from across the pond who stood in line for a long time to legally come here. Others are still waiting. They can’t just walk across the river called the Atlantic. I doubt they would even if they could.

      • secondlife

        If it wasn’t so hard & expensive to be a legal immigrant there wouldn’t be so many illegal ones to begin with. The government has created illegal immigration with their iron fisted grip of control on immigration policies & limits on green cards.

    • Mr J

      you’re a clown,Irwin. You line your pockets with cheap immigrant labor. You also don’t know what your talking about. Just an old blowhard. how many of these backstretch worker come from the Mideast.

  • JH

    The problems is the hours and working 7 days a week for $400 a week for the grooms. If you have one person who is willing to work from 5-Noon. Then come back and work from 2-4 every day. Then on top of that work another 3-4 hours 2-3 days a week when they have a horse running the trainers are going to go with that person every time. It’s they way its been done and it is the way its going to be done until there aren’t people here willing to work for that much every single day of the week. They can get by on this because they live in the barn for free. If you don’t want to live in the barn/want work 7 days a week, every week/want work very long hours/want a vacation or overtime to be paid on anything over 40 hours then this isn’t the job for you under the current system. Why is this the system ? Because the trainers can get away with it. I understand they say they have to pay this and work people these hours or they can’t afford to stay in business, but that is under the current system. They system is going to have to change and somebody, probably the owners, are going to have to reach deeper in their pockets to support that change.

  • greg

    It is truly amazing how worried so many people are about something that has NOT happened, it’s fine to discuss what options there are IF it does materialize (which is much more productive than arguing about how bad something is). How about “If this ban comes into effect while it will be bad what can / should we do at that time?” Anyhow carry on

  • Lawrence R

    You have hit the nail right on head. You are 100% right and a true American.

  • Den Jay

    Thomas, Australia has a massive European work force in horse racing. Many English, Irish, French etc.There would hardly be a Major stable ln Australia without one of the above mentioned in their employment.It is actually usually their first choice if they have interest in training later due to grass tracks being here and their homeland. Obviously you are going to get some from Europe and a small % of Australians. Remember too it is a cosy little 8 to 10 hour flight from UK to Australia. To England etc is a 20 hour flight.

  • Joey Seay

    Seriously…. Let’s be honest.. Most of these guys don’t have visas..

  • Saratoga Bob

    I strongly belive we have enough uneducated labor in this country to fill all positions that exist if you take away all the free carrots

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