Day At The Track

Crown brings nerves, pride for local trainer

09:49 AM 30 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Jamie Macomber, Harness Racing
Jamie Macomber offers the fourth grade students of Madison County a behind-the-scenes into the harness racing industry.
Dean Gillette Photography

ANDERSON — Race day starts at 6 a.m. for harness racing trainer Jamie Macomber

This Saturday was no different, though the nerves and adrenaline were a bit higher as she prepared her horses to race in the final day of harness racing's premier competition, the Breeders Crown.

“You have done all you can do this week, so now we just make sure they are ready to race,” Macomber said.

Walking through the stall ahead of the night of races, Macomber, a Fishers resident who stays in Anderson throughout racing season, couldn’t express what it feels like to see a horse she’s trained compete against the best in the world.

“You know it’s a feeling I can’t explain,” she said. “It’s an awesome feeling, fun, proud to be here.”

Alas, she later learned she had to scratch Crescent Fashion, her horse entered in the first Breeders Crown event of the evening. It meant she could focus her attention on Beckhams Z Tam, who was competing in the 11th race of the day.

Harness racing is a family affair for Macomber, who grew up in the sport. She’s married to driver Ricky Macomber, who’s won nearly 3,200 races and earned $33 million in purses.

Though she grew up around the sport, Macomber didn’t plan to follow the family legacy, and instead earned a marketing degree from Ohio University. But after trainer Ron Burke asked her to take care of a couple horses, she hopped back into the saddle.

This is Macomber’s first year with her own stable, but she’s won more than 110 races and $1.5 million in purses, battling with trainer Jeff Cullipher for leading trainer at Hoosier Park.

She splits duties with her husband, arriving at the track early and usually heading home for a quick lunch and a nap, when she can swing it, before heading back to Hoosier Park to watch her husband and her horses compete.

It’s the competition that’s kept the 38-year-old in the stables throughout most of her life.

“They are all here to win,” she said gesturing to the other horses and drivers. And there’s no right or wrong way to do it.”

For Macomber, building a bond with all of her horses is what helps her to stay successful.

“The bond is more like a parent and a child, but they can’t talk to you, so you have got to read them,” she said. “I often say: 'I don’t have two kids, I have 32 kids.'”

Despite the early mornings slogging through rain and mud, days spent in cramped barns and the ever-present need to perform at her best — Macomber wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We love what we do,” she said. “It’s a family, and it’s our family.”

Reprinted with permission of The Herald Bulletin

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