But Keith Berryman
isn't most ministers.
Five years ago, Berryman became the chaplain at the SunRay Park & Casino race track in Farmington.
He also is the pastor at First Baptist Church, but for 25 to 30 hours every week during SunRay's 11-week racing season, he's at the track, preaching to jockeys, trainers, horse groomers and anyone else who wants to listen.
Every Sunday before the races start, he
leads a 30-minute service inside the jockeys' quarters, and holds a quick prayer session before jockeys run horses on practice days.
congregation uses bad language and tells dirty jokes, and he
sees people risk more money at the counters than they can afford to lose.
preaches there because that's what Jesus would do, he
"But it is funny when I'm at the pulpit (at First Baptist Church) and I remind everyone that horse racing starts this weekend," he
started preaching at the track to fill a need.
Most race tracks around the country have a preacher, he
said, and the chaplain at Ruidoso Downs
and said the jockeys at SunRay wanted one, too.
job is important because many of the people who ride and work there are good Christians with dangerous jobs.
"Only a few people treat me like a good-luck charm," he
rode with him in the ambulance and was praying in the waiting room when Coates' heart stopped twice during an operation.
wasn't originally welcomed with open arms into the jockeys' locker room.
had to preach over a television on full volume and people playing cards when he
first started leading services at Sunray Park.
Then something happened that changed the way Berryman was perceived: He
got injured on the track.
At the Sunray race track a medical van rides behind the horses in case something happens to one of the jockeys.
On one particular day three years ago, Berryman
climbed onto the back of the van for the first time and was holding on with two or three others, said Ken LaRue, an assistant starter who was driving the van.
went into convulsions when he
landed on the track.
didn't suffer any serious injuries.
walked back into the jockeys' locker room the next day with a sore neck.
"Everyone looked at me like I was walking on water," he
"I can't watch (horse racing) without understanding the difficulty of it," Berryman
"The wives and kids are holding their breath every time dad jumps on a horse."
Vance Mikkleson, a horse owner who occasionally attends Berryman's services at the track, said it takes a special type of preacher to do his job.
"It's not like having church where people come to you. (Berryman) comes to them."