War Time Racing Costly: Interesting Particulars of Stable Problems Difficult to Solve, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-04


view raw text

WAR TIME RACING COSTLY Interesting Particulars of Stable Problems Difficult to Solve. 0 Shortage of Competent Help Probably Most Serious Drawback Encountered. The vast problem which confronts the Employment Bureau of tin Department of Labor will Ikj relieved from the consideration of at least one great industry thoroughlu-ed horse breeding and racing for the young men of the land who deserted it to answer tin" call to the colors will find their former occupation awaiting them upon their return to civil life; their employers smiling, and with open arms. It has lieen one of the few industries of the country which found itself unable to partially solve its labor problem by the employment of the feminine wartime substitute and which has therefore suffered acutely. The shortage of competent stable help, both on the tracks and at the stock farms throughout the land, first lecame apparent during the Mexican Isoriler trouble, when numbers of young men, attracted by the recruiting posters which promised cavalry service in Mexico, submitted themselves for examination before the army medical men. Their physical fitness, a result of their outdoor life and regular living, made them desirable candidates, and they were quickly passed into the service. It is probable that there were fewer rejections from among the turf applicants than from any other vocation at that time. Shortly after the United States declared war against Germany racings labor problems became evident, for there wen? many more departures from tlie ranks of owners, trainers, jockeys, stable attendants known as rubbers, and exercising lads, whoso places it was found impossible to fill with experienced substitutes for the care of a thoroughbred may only be undertaken by one wiiose life has been devoted to its study. As the war progressed and the countrys call became more insistent many trainers whose custom it had been only to supervise, doffed their fine clothes, donned overalls and jumpers, rubbed and walked their horses, and bedded stalls that their charges might have proper care. Lpon some was forced the care of horses whose trainers had gone into service. During the summer of 1918 there were six positions open to every man who understood the care of a racing animal. Competition for the services of such became keen, and from the 1916 average of 0 per mouth, found and transportation, the wage scale rose to 5 to $.10, and in some instances 1919.sh0, with the alternative of accepting the racing kitchens fare, or feeding themselves where they might choose, for an additional 0 iter week. The old rule which insisted that all attendants spend their nights at stable quarters was relaxed, and many sought and found a few hours extra employment, either in other stables or in the near-by towns. The latter service worked a hardship on their racing employers, for some became undefendable and unable to resist the temptations of city life. When they failed to appear for the days duties, owners and trainers weie compelled to substitute, or prevail, with monetary inducement, upon their more faithful employes to assume the extra labor. The pre-war arrangement which saw each rubber care for two horses became impracticable and it was only through the medium of increased wages the necessary service was gained. Exercising lads, who. in 1910 sought employment at 0 to 5 per month and who had been rejected from military service because of their diminutive size, found themselves capable of demanding from 5 to 00 per month, and were so eagerly sought at the latter figure, finally, that many refused contract employment. Instead, they stood about the rails during the morning hours and made dallv engagements with the harried horsemen, the financial results of which proved their wisdom. The number of valets, or jocyer attendants, was depleted by more than half their 1915 figure though those who remained received comparatively slight financial a d va n cem en t. BREEDERS HARD KIT. Breeders, congregating at the yearling sales rings, voiced similar difficulties iu obtaining helpers, while the situation became graver daily and only the ending of hostilities has helped to indicate the solution of their problem. For those who went their positions await upon their return; though it is unlikely that any unskilled surplus element can be absorbed. The turf offers no great field of labor for matured men who lack knowledge of the whims and care of the thoroughbred. That is gained only through lifelong association with the horse and it is the only department of the great sport which offers a ligiti-inate future to men who eventually supply from their ranks the many highly salaried trainers of the world. The lightweight boy always will have his opportunity to learn the business through an apprenticeship, but for men it offers little. During the spring of 1918 n young trainer-owner, who had formerly ridden successfully, visited his stable one morning to be informed by his three rubbers that they were joining the colors within the week. After an hours deliberation he decided to sell his five horses at a sacrifice, adopted a banana and water diet in order to make the increased weight qualification the navy demanded, and within, three days was accepted by that department. . A well-known trainer was recently queried about his experience with the labor problem. He said: "Ive suffered for the last rwo years, and am compelled to admit that sometimes my horses havent had the proper care because of lack of men. Ive done more hard work during that time tiian 1 thought I was doing when a boy apprentice. Ive found many muscles Ive been doubtful of the possession of for the last ten years; but T finally see relief in sight. Last week I heard of the honorable discharge of one of my former rubbers, a negro. He was mustered out at New York, and after sending about ten telegraph messages I located him. Hes due tomorrow, to receive 1919.sh0 per month, found and transportation. Hes worth it; a capable man. I wish I could get three more like him to help me win some more races than I have been doing. I need to do that under existing conditions. In my capacity as a public trainer I never experienced much dificulty up until 1910 in securing all the men I needed, and the only consideration that ever worried me was the development of likely youngsters. Today such men and lovs as Im fortunate enough to get are being paid 100 per cent more, und Im compelled to pay 1919.sh to 0 for their board, as against the old rate of 191C, according to the territory we travel. Saddles which then cost me 0 are priced at $."0 today. The advance of liniment, such as alcohol, arnica, etc., has been correspondingly great, so has the cost of woolen blankets, bandages and surcingles; in fact, all stable equipment, as buckets, forks and brooms. Hay in 1916 averaged me 9 per ton; the present price is 5. Straw then was 2.50; today an inferior grade costs 3. Oats were forty-two cents; now Im paying .05 for a quality not so good. Railroad shipments have proven disastrous to my purse with the increased express and passenger rates. "One of my several clients has been compelled to reduce his racing stable because of the vastly increased income tax, which eompejs him to " contribute the greater part of his earnings to the government and which threatens to finally deprive him of his sole amusement and relaxation racing. Personally my net profits are less than they were when 1 was racing for 00 purses in the west fifteen years ago. Ive done my hit, not only in work, but in worry, and I dont suppose Ill cease worying until all my old boys and men are back with me again. I hope that day is near," he sighed.

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1910s/drf1919020401/drf1919020401_1_2
Local Identifier: drf1919020401_1_2
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800