Young jockey on top at track

Farm Forum

Nothing seems to rattle Nathan Haar.

The 18-year-old jockey has won 11 horse races this season at the Brown County Fairgrounds. He has 48 career wins in just two years as a jockey. Last year, he won only three races in Aberdeen. However, last year he did not ride over 20 times, like he has this year.

“I know I’ve only been doing it for awhile,” Haar said, “but every horse I get on, I feel like I’m a seasoned-vet and know exactly what I’m doing and can figure it out, and I still do make mistakes. I will be the first person to admit to that.”

Haar has enjoyed multiple wins on race days this season. And sometimes with outside distractions. His grandfather, Rollie Haar, passed away on May 11. Nathan raced the next day and won five races, including the last race on a gray horse named, Alphabet Academy.

“My grandpa would always say when he was at the races, ‘If there is a gray horse in the race you never bet against it, you always put all your money on the gray horse,’” Haar said. “It was cool to go out that last race of that most memorable day of riding with a gray horse. It was like we did that one for Grandpa.”

Haar then graduated from Frederick High School on May 18. After graduation, he hurried to Aberdeen and got to the races around 3:30 p.m. He won a race that day as well.

“It was a really memorable day to win a race, on the day you graduated,” he said. “Not too many people can say they did that.”

Aberdeen is not the only track that Haar has made a name for himself. Last year, he raced at tracks in Belcourt, N.D.; Fargo, N.D.; Lincoln, Neb.; Grand Island, Neb.; and Columbus, Neb. At the track in Columbus, he won 13 races during the seven weeks.

“Last year, I just got a lot more experience at some better tracks around here,” he said. “And people saw that I had a little success at those tracks.”

He also went to Belmont Park in New York, where he did not race, but galloped horses. Belmont Park is the home of the third leg of the Triple Crown.

When he was in New York, he stayed with jockey Rosie Napravnik and her husband, Joe Sharp. Napravnik rode in the Kentucky Derby this year. Haar texted her the week before the derby telling her good luck and he did not expect a response from the famous jockey.

“Within two or three minutes of my text, she had responded and asked me how things were going,” Haar said. “That is something that I like about her – she doesn’t have to care about what is going on in little South Dakota, but she is always concerned about how we are doing.”

Later this summer, he plans on riding in Tulsa, Okla., and then again in Columbus, Neb., in August. Haar does not plan on attending college until fall 2014, instead he is going to see how far jockeying takes him right now. He realizes that he may not be able to jockey for much longer because of his height.

“It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when I’m going to get too tall,” the 5-foot-8 Haar said.

Therefore, he is going to enjoy his time in the saddle as much as possible and is appreciative of all the people that have helped him along the way, especially the owners of the horses.

“Without them, I wouldn’t be having the success that I’m having,” he said. “It is not that I’m the best rider right now, I’m just on the best horses.”