Interviewing in the fall of 2018 for a position in the Information Technology Department of the New York Racing Association (NYRA), I remember being struck by something I had never thought about before.
My interview that day was in an area that faces the 1½-mile dirt oval at Belmont Park, offering me a view – and a part of the track – I’d never seen or visited.
That’s because I was more accustomed to the track’s backstretch, the expansive barn area beyond the track where my parents worked with the horses – my dad as a groom and my mom as a hot walker. Although I grew up in Elmont, a stone’s throw from Belmont Park, working for NYRA on the “frontside” of the business as I do now is in a sense a long way from the part of the track that I knew.
The racetrack has been a part of my world for as long as I can remember. As kids, my older sister, Jessica, and I loved accompanying our dad to work. From watching my parents leave most days at 5 a.m., I learned to appreciate their sacrifice, especially all those mornings when our dad would cut away from the track to drive me to school. A lot of my friends are the sons and daughters of backstretch workers; and for several summers as teenagers, Jessica and I worked as white caps or ushers at historic Saratoga Race Course.
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