Harness racing is a serious business for Michael Fiumenero, even though the 33-year-old still can't quite believe he's pursuing the career he dreamed of when was a kid attending Freehold Raceway with his Dad.
The Princeton (New Jersey) native said he had long been in awe of driving greats Herve Filion and Jack Moiseyev when growing up.
“Now it’s all a bit hard to take in that I’m actually working in the industry and have mixed and competed against these greats of the sport.
“That’s why I treat my job very seriously. I am living the dream and I want to make it work for me. Everything I do in harness racing is a business decision, Fiumenero told Harnesslink.
He said that’s why he had only had 10 drives in the past four seasons, including just one in 2012.
“I’m primarily a trainer. When I first started out I had a few more drives but these day I look at the best possible option for my horses and I know there are better drivers than me out there. I only drive if something’s been missed and the horse needs special attention,” Fiumenero said.
He works a team of five out of the White Birch Farm at Allentown in New Jersey.
He’s worked for several trainers as a groom including three years with Jim Campbell.
“I learnt as I went and enjoyed my time with Jim because I got the opportunity to work some with nice 3-year-olds – Breeders Crown runner-up and Matron winner Lotsa Clout (1:50 – nine wins and $782,082) and Bagel Beach Boy (1:50 – 45 wins and $855,153).”
Fiumenero went out on his own in 2002 and since then has trained 70 winners ($353,882) – including seven this year. His best season was last year when he won 17 races and $62,258.
“I would love to train a really good open class horse one day but for now I realise I have to work my way up to that with cheap claimers.
“I usually work with nut-cases or horses who have injuries or gait problems – but it’s what I enjoy doing. When I wake up in the morning it doesn’t feel like a job,” Fiumenero said.
“I also get to mix with good people,” he added.
He singled out 7-year-oldmare, Rustys Martini as a claimer who had made the stable money.
“She’s a very versatile pacer who seldom runs a bad race. I own her and she always gives her best. She placed at Yonkers last Thursday (May 17),” Fiumenero said.
Fiumenero travels widely with his horses racing them at Freehold, Yonkers, Harrahs Philadelphia, Pocono Downs and The Meadowlands.
“If I keep treating this as a serious business and I continue to work hard I know I can succeed in this sport. I’m only 33 and have got plenty of time,” Fiumenero said.
Fiumenero is not married but has a girlfriend named Tracy Tarantino. Although harness racing consumes most of his life Fiumenero likes fishing, barbecues and watching the Green Bay Packers NFL team.
Does he have a memorable moment in harness racing?
“Meeting my idol Herve Filion when I first got to drive. I was nervous and didn’t know whether to say hullo and tell him that he was my childhood hero or not.
“I went with it and he was very nice to me. A real gentleman! I’m glad I did that,” Fiumenero said.
By Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Hall-Of-Famer Herve Filion played a big part in Michael Fiumenero’s early love of harness racing:
(2) Michael Fiumenero is a fan of the Green Bay Packers:
(3) He’s also a fan of Brett Favre – the Green Bay Packers quarter back from 1992-2007: