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Ahead of Kentucky Derby, worker shortage looms for trainers

Conditions and low pay in the industry worry advocates. A backside worker at Churchill Downs makes roughly $11.50 on average.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As they prepare for the Kentucky Derby, horse racing officials are warning that President Donald Trump’s immigration orders threaten to cause a labor shortage for the industry.

Trainers say that despite record unemployment nationwide during the coronavirus pandemic, American workers aren’t coming in to fill empty spots and the migrant workers they’ve come to rely on aren’t being allowed in because of an executive order. 

The work is a year-round task with no days off or allowances for bad weather or a pandemic. 

Conditions and low pay in the industry worry advocates. A backside worker at Churchill Downs makes roughly $11.50 on average.

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