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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Stable Views: Stories and Voices from the Thoroughbred Racetrack

In 2012, folklorist Dr. Ellen McHale received an Archie Green Fellowship to document "backstretch" track workers— trainers, grooms, exercise riders, hot-walkers, jockeys, blacksmiths, and others--directly involved with the care and maintenance of thoroughbred racehorses  at race tracks along the U.S. East Coast. The fieldworker conducted 17 audio interviews and took documentary photographs at various locations, including racetracks in Belmont and Saratoga Springs, New York; the Evangeline Training Center in Louisiana; and racetracks in Tampa Bay and Boynton Beach, Florida.

McHale's interviewees included several with Latin American workers, who are employed in increasing numbers by the racing industry, and women, who are now primarily employed as exercise riders and grooms, but who aspire to positions as jockeys, trainers, and horse owners. She also documented crafts people, who supply clothing and tack; exercise riders who travel from track to track as free agents or under contract with specific trainers; and one of the few "horse identifiers and tattoo-ers," whose job is to authenticate specific animals.

Information and excerpts from these interviews served as the basis of Ellen McHale's book Stable Views: Stories and Voices from the Thoroughbred Racetrack (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2015). Catalog record.

Go to Stable Views: Voices and Stories from the Thoroughbred Racetrack collection items