New York’s Belmont racetrack needs workers. The U.S. Immigration Services agency turned down a request by the racetrack to issue temporary visas for 100 grooms, hotwalkers and exercise riders.
Track officials said they could not find local people to take the jobs.
Workers say the jobs are hard. “You have to wake up at 4:00 AM. You have to clean the horses, care for them,” one said. Another said, “It can be a dangerous job. If you fall, you risk breaking your back. You also have to work seven days a week.”
The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association went to court to change the ruling. They told the court the federal agency routinely approved H-2B temporary visas in the past. The workers were mostly from Mexico and South America.
The lack of workers forced stable owners to turn away horses because there are not enough workers to care for them.
The federal agency said the workers are no longer temporary because they will work in Florida after the Belmont Park season is over.
The horsemen say hiring seasonal workers in Florida has nothing to do with visas for the New York season. They say they are not able to find qualified and willing workers locally through help-wanted ads and a state employment agency.