Who’s Gonna’ Fill Their Shoes?

by Ed Meyer

posted on February 21, 2022 in Blogroll, General Discussion, Horse Racing, WinningPonies.com | Comments Off on Who’s Gonna’ Fill Their Shoes?

Just like George Jones sang years ago. – The song means more today than it ever did. I thought about the song and country music; who was gonna be the next big artist to step up. – Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of super talented musicians out there, but who was going to pay the price to echo in our hearts forever?

Horse Racing is in the same boat. – Many tracks, OTB’s, and racinos are feeling the pinch. – They can’t find people to fill all of the needed jobs out there. The clerks, program sales folks, outriders, pony people, trainers, valets, managers, and behind the scene heroes who make the game go round. -Racing cannot find enough people to fill jobs with a bevy of good-paying positions going unfilled. Why?

The government assistance for COVID is over. I passed by two fast food shops looking for breakfast and a sign on the order board posts they are closed due to staffing. They will open at 12:00 pm. – Racing cannot get enough qualified people to join ranks to be gainfully employed keeping the torch blazing for the next generation.

This is not only a racing question but where is everyone at? Remember standing in line for an interview? How about being at the bottom of the stack of qualified workers? – It is everywhere, and finding good help is a tough job in itself. Pay has gone up, and jobs that used to be earmarked for high school kids are now allowing adults to raise a family and have a life now.

I work at two race tracks and the most difficult task is trying to find quality people to work at a square wage. – The ranks have dried up and finding new people is more than a tough task. Where did they go? Programs of help have dried up and what are the people doing for money? – Scratching my head it took me back to a conversation this past Saturday night.

If we are having trouble finding good people to work. Who is gonna fill the shoes of the 50-somethings who are working weekends, holidays, and nights? – In the old days, this was not a problem, and at any time you could rattle off a list of names of folks who wanted to work. Not anymore. – Where did they go?”

As we sat in a temporary pod while construction is building a new state-of-the-art facility. Three inches of rain pounded the glass making it hard to see the races. – “Ed, when we retire, can you see anyone sitting here on a Saturday night in these conditions doing these jobs?” – The answer was easy. No. It will be tougher to answer the bell.

Not to say we are the last of the tried and true, but this past year has me wondering. – During the pandemic there were folks who were displaced, laid off, and were kept on the list to be called back. Not much of the above happened. – Dropping back was necessary in the beginning as business was slow. But now, the game is ramping up for a new run and staffing is the key issue. Finding good people is no easy trick.

It seems the retired ranks are carrying the weight. They came up in a tough generation and even though retired, are still the first folks you call for work. – Maybe a peer working environment could work? – The pay has gone up. – Hours and even working from home for certain jobs are a part of the landscape. – It’s getting tough out there for sure. People interested in racing could help bring back the love of the game. – More communication and actually listening to your greatest assets can go miles and miles in building for the future. Managers are ready to take a new approach.

Until then, we’ll scrap and hunt for someone we hope will work out. – If there was ever a time to get in the game of racing it is now. There are new ideas being brought to the table and racing is more than catching up with the times. – It’s not your grandpa’s game anymore, and it’s not even as you remember. This is a brand new day as the fog is lifting and the sun shines once again. – Hope to see you at the race soon!