This week has been busy, fun and typical of mid-semester. It is highlighted by remembering and visiting with RTIP alum.
Sunday, February 24 will be the sixth annual Peter Selin Memorial appropriately called the "Happy Minute." I will start by thanking three alums: Richard Scheidt, Scot Waterman and Michael Costanzo for making the race possible through their race and purse sponsorship at Rillito Park.
Peter was a great student and gregarious. He was a non-traditional student (OK older!) — what we often refer to as a second career student. Pete's prior career was the entertainment and bar business before coming to Tucson. He would schedule bands and tell a host of other stories about his prior days.
What stood out to me the most was that Peter was loved by everyone here and could socialize and relate with everyone from an 18-year-old freshman to all the older folks like faculty and other second career students.
There are way too many stories to recall. He always hosted a turkey fry on Thanksgiving for any and all students that did not leave town for the holiday. I heard several versions of a story that involved a trip to Florida with then associate coordinator, John Walzak for a student presentation at the HTA (Harness Tracks of America) conference. I know it may have involved a visit back to the type of establishments he may have frequented in his prior career and some other students showing up late but you will have to find another alum that was with him that week to get the full version of a wild ride. John Walzak never told me what happened but in the seven years that John was here, that was the only time I saw John showing any negative emotion.
Mr. Selin was also known as a conspiracy theory advocate. He often had a good theory why a race did not go as planned and would have been a good regulator with his suspicious nature.
I look forward to sharing some of those stories again this weekend at Rillito Park with alum. The name of the race also has a special meaning. The Happy Minute was a title for the race wisely chosen by its founders. The dive bar, the Buffet Bar and Crock Pot, was Pete's favorite hangout and where he held court. Each night at 5:45 PM, for one minute, the bar has the best discount beer special in town (free) - it was of course called "the Happy Minute." The Peter Selin memorial is at a distance of five and one half furlongs carefully chosen because it was the distance at Rillito where the horses run it in close to a minute.
The only thing better than remembering past alum that I had in class is actually visiting with them when they come back to town or I meet them in my travels. This week I got to double down on that fun. Raj Mutti, as mentioned in last week's blog was here to teach classes and did a great job. Visiting with him in the evening and between classes was great. Raj took much of the Hirsch class to tell stories to the students about his days here in Tucson. In the other two classes, he shared a wealth of knowledge from all his various management experiences.
To complete the week I had dinner with Mike McCarley last night who is in town since the Accenture Match Play is in Tucson this week. Mike is president of the Golf Channel and was not too pleased to see snow in Tucson!
It's also been a busy week with students which is good. I met with a number of students that are planning their senior capstone projects. In addition Steve Barham and I meet weekly with second year graduate students working on their professional development project. Somewhere this week I also managed to fit teaching classes and grading the latest assignments in both classes. The racing office did very well having to determine eligibility and proper weight assignments for about 15 horses. The management class turned in a paper about racing in a country outside of the USA. They also did a very good job and next semester we share some of their work when we explore racing in a number of other countries as part of the second semester management course.
Next week looks to be equally busy and the blog may be delayed as I travel to the Harness Congress at the end of the week. There are tests and mid-terms to give next week and we continue our guest speaker series with another speaker.