Driver Justin Walters has been passionate about harness racing and horses since he was very young. Learning all about the business from his father, he started helping around the barn, and embraced each challenge as he worked hands-on with the horses. There was never any question that he would have a career in the business that he loves.
“We first moved out here (Washington, PA), when I was three years old, and my dad (Steve Walters) was working for some people,” Justin remembered. “One day, he had me up on his lap jogging horses! I’ve pretty much been in this business all my life, and so has my dad.”
Summers and weekends were spent in the barn. “Growing up, I was at the barn, and going to the track if I could, and watching horses race. My brother works with diesel mechanics, and when I was in high school, I tried getting into that, because my parents really didn’t want me to do the horses. But, things didn’t go that way, and one day, I started helping my dad more and more, and he told me I should just get my driving license. Then I started qualifying horses, and everything started picking up from there.”
Today, the 21-year-old is steadily driving at the Meadows, as well as at Rosecroft Raceway during their meet, which ended in May.
Justin’s favorite part of harness racing, besides driving, is working closely with the future equine stars. “We have some young horses, and I like just seeing them develop into young horses, and into racehorses; building bonds with horses, and seeing their characteristics.”
His father, Trainer/Driver Steve Walters is a second generation horseman, and he’s been in the business since 2000. He grew up in upstate New York, racing at Vernon Downs and Dover Downs. At age 16 or so, he moved to Rosecroft Raceway, doing some driving. Eventually he relocated to New Jersey, where he met his wife, and then moved the family to the Meadows, where he started his barn. Today, he has ten horses in his barn.
Steve is happy to see his son working in the business. “I think he’s got talent, and he’s still in the learning process, but he’s ahead of the game for his age, I would say. I feel proud for him.”
Photo Credit to Chris Gooden“I’ve always been hard on him, as a kid,” Steve confessed. “Things don’t come easy. I’ve driven, but he’s got more talent than me, as a driver. But I’ve driven, and I’ve watched enough races and trained horses enough times where I know what he needs to correct. His biggest thing is, he’s very patient. He just needs to be more aggressive at times, and being at a young age, young drivers are either going to be really aggressive, or really laid back. When it’s time for him to be aggressive, sometimes, he’s too aggressive. But it’s a learning experience.”
Steve also believes that driving at the Meadows he’s definitely getting to learn from some of the best. “He’s learning from the top drivers, Ronnie Wrenn, Aaron Merriman, Dave Palone.”
“He enjoys it,” he said. “His mom and I are definitely proud of him for what he has achieved the last year and a half, or so.”
Justin is definitely a rising star in harness racing, and he’s looking forward to many more exciting races in the future. “I’m planning on sticking to driving and seeing where that takes me,” he said.
Justin Walters
Driving Stats 2024
Starts – 434
1st – 32
2nd – 43
3rd – 50
2024 Earnings $326,037
Lifetime Earnings $842,556
Steve Walters
Training Stats – Lifetime
Starts – 1469
1st – 159
2nd – 169
3rd – 202
Earnings $1,472,212
Cover Photo Credit to Chris Gooden
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