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February 27, 2004


From: Harnesslink - New Zealand - Feb 27, 2004

On Saturday night (February 28), Pompano Park Harness Track hosts its richest night of racing with $290,000 in stakes events headlined by the $162,000 Isle of Capri Pacing Series Final.

Richard Macomber Junior has a horse to drive in two of the events but what makes the 33-year-old professional unique among all of the drivers not only in the stakes races but throughout North America is that he was born deaf.

Ricky says that because of his hearing aids he is only hearing impaired.

His hearing aids help him hear some noises and some voices, but he mainly relies on lip reading to speak with people.

"I have to pay a lot more attention on the track then most people." Macomber says.

"I can't rely on my limited hearing while in a race, but I can hear a lot because of my hearing aids.

"Shouting, horses hooves hitting the ground. I have learned to tell these sounds, which are very important.

"My problem is not always being able to hear someone talking unless I am staring at them and can read their lips. But I don't think it has affected my ability to drive."

On Saturday, Macomber mainly needs only to be in total communication with the horses he is driving.

They are Dee's Magic Man in the $162,000 final of the Isle of Capri Pace, which is race nine and Swinging Glory from post two in the second race $50,000 Red Bow Tie Invitational Pace for Florida-breds.

Dee's Magic Man, who starts from post six, scored a tough victory last week in a preliminary round of the Isle of Capri Series that enabled the 5-Year-Old gelding to make it to the final on Saturday.

They start from post six and are listed at odds of 10-1. In the last three races that Macomber has driven Dee's Magic Man, they have won twice.

The race favourite is Luckyisasluckydoes from post three at odds of 8/5 after winning both of his preliminary rounds, one of those races in 1.51, just two-fifths of a second from the track record.

With Swingin Glory in the second race $50,000 Red Bow Tie Invitational Pace, they drew post two and Macomber and his steed are the overwhelming 6/5 morning line favourite.

Swinging Glory and Macomber has teamed up this season to win twice in eight starts against the best pacers on the grounds at Pompano Park.

Macomber was fortunate to have grown up in a harness racing family that dates back three generations.

His grandfather, Ed Hauck, Sr. was an owner/trainer/driver who was not only successful in Buffalo, New York, but when he came down to south Florida in the 1970's he brought with him a special sauce receipt for the popular northern appetizer, chicken wings, which the senior Hauck and his son developed from one store called Wings N Things in Pompano Beach to a chain of five stores now called Bru's Room Sports Grill.

Macomber's father, Richard, is still an owner and trainer who has had a long and successful career in the sport and gave Ricky his early tutoring.

"I can remember Ricky as a child," Richard Macomber said.

"Maybe 5 or 6-Year-Olds, rigging up an old harness on a fence, grabbing the lines and a whip and making believe he was driving the Hambletonian winner. He always loved being around the horses and at the stables."

"I have been around horses all my life." Macomber Junior said.

"It was around 1984 while warming up horses on the track at Brandywine Raceway in Delaware that I realized I wanted to make this my career."

But before that could happen, Ricky went to college and not just any run of the mill school.

Ricky was accepted and attended the prestigious Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and has a degree in business management.

Gallaudet University is the only university in the world for the deaf and hard of hearing.

"I really liked college." Ricky said.

"Especially that I got to play on the basketball team all four years. Both the business management courses and the basketball taught me a lot about how important team work is and that you can't work or run a real business without team work.

"The same goes in racing with your owners, driving, working with caretakers. If you are not working together as a team, then you are not doing the job the best you can."

Ricky has had some great success driving and his first victory came right at Pompano Park.

"It was 1977 and I was driving Cane Pole at Pompano Park." Macomber Junior remembered.

"That was my first win. It felt really good to win a race after so many years of training and thinking about becoming a driver.

"In 2000 I won one of the biggest races of my career, the $150,000 Dan Patch with a horse named Royal Flush Hanover." Macomber said.

"The race went in 1.49.4 and that was the biggest purse and fastest race of my career. Then I came back in 2002 and won the Dan Patch again with E Dee's Cam.

"I have personal goals for me in harness racing." Macomber said.

"I want to win 1000 races and I want to become a top trainer one day. I don't know how long I will be able to be a driver, but I am really enjoying it right now."

That could be very true for Ricky Macomber Junior come Saturday night at Pompano Park.

What is the worse thing that Ricky Macomber feels he could do any given day?

Well, just like the television commercial for American Express Travelers Checks, Ricky says he never leaves home without extra batteries for his hearing aids.

"I go no place with extra hearing aid batteries." Macomber said.

"I have them in my car, in my locker, all around my home. I never leave home without them.

"Without my hearing aids I cannot hear anything and that is pretty bad."

Courtesy Of Steve Wolf, Marketing Director, Pompano Park

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