A Grad Student's Year at the RTIP

Follow graduate student Christina Moore’s final year at the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program via a compilation of her blog posts. From her internship at Del Mar Racetrack to the completion of her professional development project you’ll get a student’s perspective of what goes on in the program throughout the school year.

Christina was awarded her Master’s degree in May, 2013.

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Welcome

7/4/12 — Welcome to the student blog! I’m Christina Moore, a current grad student here at the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. In the summer of 2012 I’m interning at Del Mar Racetrack, and in the fall I’ll start my last few classes and dive in to my professional development project. I hail from the Midwest, and I am very interested in marketing, as well as safety and welfare of the athletes.

This blog will follow my internship experiences in the summer and I will also be giving a student perspective of what goes on in the program throughout the school year. I am really enjoying the program and I have gained a great deal of knowledge, experiences and contacts that will be an asset to me as I look to start my career in the racing industry! So stick around a while, and see what I’ve been up to!

 

Farewell Tucson

7/5/12 — My bags are packed and ready to go! Tomorrow I leave behind the hot desert of Tucson in favor of the balmy southern California coast, San Diego to be exact. I have a place all lined up to live and I am super excited to not only escape the heat, but work and learn at Del Mar race track! My first day of work is July 10th, and opening day is the 18th!

My internship will concentrate on the areas of marketing and social media, but I will be spending some time in other departments as well. It should be a great experience. Plus there’s so much to do in San Diego on my time off… the zoo and safari park, downtown, Padres games, Balboa Park, etc., and the beach is always an option! The 6.5 hour drive will go by quickly, I’m sure, and before I know it I’ll be all settled in. Hope my dog Joey doesn’t miss me too much!

 

Sights of San Diego

7/9/12 — This past weekend in San Diego flew by, and tomorrow is my first day at Del Mar! My husband helped me move here, and Saturday we went to the San Diego Zoo, which completely lived up to expectations, followed by a sunset on the beach and dinner out. Sunday morning we went to La Jolla Cove before he had to head back to Tucson, and I spent the evening unpacking. This morning I took a “test drive” to work to see how long it would take with morning traffic, and it wasn’t bad at all!

The zoo, of course, has the adorable giant pandas plus lots of other neat animals, and the setting is gorgeous. La Jolla Cove is famous for its rocky coastline with seals (or are they sea lions?) barking and sunning themselves. Plus there’s a cute little beach, palm trees, shops, and the ocean of course. It was very crowded and very California-y, if there is such a thing. There’s also a neat ocean cave you can get to from inside one of the souvenir shops there!

My summer in San Diego is off to a great start, and I can’t wait to get to Del Mar tomorrow!

 

Pre-Meet Prep

7/12/12 — I've been staying busy during my first few days of interning!  Myself and four other marketing interns have been doing a lot of pre-meet prep- mailing out media guides and Camp Del Mar info, counting and labeling gift shop merchandise, dabbling in the accounting department.  We've also been watching the horses arrive!  Tomorrow should be an especially busy day for that. 

Del Mar is somewhat unique in that the grounds are used for many other things throughout the year, which is possible since it's such a short (37-day) meet.  For the month of June through the 4th of July it was the site of the San Diego County Fair, and It's been a lot of fun watching the transformation from fair grounds to race track. Less than a week 'til opening day!  It's amazing the progress that was made on the landscaping in just 24 hours. 

One especially fun project we've had so far is to take pictures of a life-size cardboard cutout of jockey Chantal Sutherland in various (funny) places around the track... reading a form, using a payphone, driving a tractor, peeking out from a saddling stall, etc.  The pictures will later be used for social media purposes.  We also had a Del Mar Marketing 101 presentation which we learned about Del Mar's branding, of which Chantal will be an integral part this season.

Looking forward to meeting some horses tomorrow, when we'll be spending time with the horsemen's liaison!

 

San Diego Sunset

7/14/12 — I don't think a caption is necessary!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost Showtime

7/17/12 — The countdown is almost over- tomorrow is opening day at Del Mar!  I expect to stay busy- all of the interns have been assigned to different areas for opening day, and I will be helping out in ticketing/operations.  Last year there were 46,588 people on hand, and tomorrow should be similar. 

Today was a lot of last-minute prep, including learning about my roles for tomorrow, sorting and packaging groups of tickets, and running errands all over the grounds.  There was also a lot of work by others to make sure the TV cameras and PA system were set up and working properly.   The paddock and grounds are beautiful and ready for the craziness of tomorrow!

Last Friday another intern and I walked the backside with the horsemen's liaison handing out newsletters, and she and I will divide up the job for the rest of the Fridays of the meet!  It was a lot of fun seeing the barns and meeting the trainers, even though not everyone was moved in yet. Acclamation, who will be defending his title in the Eddie Read this Saturday, was there though!  Hopefully I'll have a chance to get a picture with him actually looking at the camera sometime soon.  The backside is buzzing and full this week, and I'm looking forward to this Friday morning.  First things first though, opening day!

 

Starstruck

7/20/12 — Opening day was truly crazy!  I spent several hours in a booth taking money and tickets, had a quick break for lunch, and went to the operations office to count.  The end result of all the ticket counting was yet another record breaking opening day crowd, 47,339!  The sights and sounds of the day were unforgettable, and it was exciting to see so many people out to enjoy a day at Del Mar.  I even saw Drew Brees, who is part owner of Oceanside Stakes runner Holy Candy.

Then on Thursday, traditionally the lowest-attended day of the meet, I worked a normal day at the track and went to a 75th Anniversary party at the San Diego Hall of Champions to sell the Del Mar at 75 books.  The sales of the book weren't exactly impressive, but I enjoyed being surrounded by so many industry leaders, including the book's author and photographer, Jay Privman and Barry Meyers, as well as several jockeys, trainers, and owners.

After delivering the weekly newsletter to horsemen on the backside this morning, I spent much of the day in the frontside racing office.  The office is buzzing with activity on race days.  Owners and trainers come in for parking stickers, clubhouse passes, and table requests, and the phone seems to be ringing off the hook.   Up to this point in my life I haven't been fortunate enough to live near any race track, let alone a major one, so I am still blown away by seeing (and talking to) so many stars of the sport on a daily basis!  Not to mention visiting row after row of equine superstars in the barns on the backside.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow when Acclamation tries to extend his win streak to 7 in the Grade I Eddie Read!

 

Busy Weekend

7/25/12 — So sorry I haven't had time to post in a few days!  I've been running around like a madwoman.  Del Mar actually gave me Sunday off to avoid working 6 days in a week, but I went to the track anyways.  How many people do you know that go to their place of work on their day off- for fun??  I'm so fortunate to work in an industry I love.  I went Sunday because (among other reasons) I wanted to see the GII San Clemente and the first ever Del Mar Paddock Sale. 

The San Clemente was a great race with some good fillies, and the paddock sale was really neat.  Eden's Moon won in her first try on turf.  Then at the sale, Fightin Mean Mad, a filly who broke her maiden at first asking, went for $200,000.  Three other horses also went for six figures.  The sale was unique in that it was immediately after the races, and the horses were all race-ready.  One goal of the sale was to get more owners in the business.  It must have succeeded, because from what I've heard it will return in 2013. 

My parents and younger brother are currently in San Diego visiting me, having arrived Monday, and on my days off we did some sightseeing around the city.  Hotel del Coronado was beautiful, as was Balboa Park.  We also walked around Old Town for a while yesterday evening and learned a little about the settling of California.  Of course, I had to take them to the track- yesterday morning we went and watched some horses train and then walked through some barns, and today they went to the races while I was working, thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Suggestive Boy won the Wickerr Stakes in an exciting finish, and my dad even made a few bucks off of my handicapping "expertise."   

This weekend promises to be full of great racing, with the grade III Cougar II on Friday featuring Richard's Kid, who I've heard is training very well, the grade II San Diego Handicap on Saturday featuring Baffert duo Prayer for Relief and Take Control, and Sunday's grade I Bing Crosby which figures to be a showdown between The Factor and last year's champion sprinter Amazombie.  Plus, last year's Haskell winner Coil returns to the races in an allowance/optional claiming on Thursday.  What a weekend!

One other thing- thanks to a contact I've made at Del Mar, I'm now blogging for Horse Racing Nation too!  Given my busy schedule, I hope to post at least one blog per week, just discussing what's going on at Del Mar, for the duration of the meet.  I'm super excited for the opportunity to get my name in front of so many horse racing fans!  My first post was about last weekend's stakes races.  Feel free to check it out here:  http://www.horseracingnation.com/blogs/Del_Mar/D%C3%A9j%C3%A0_vu_for_Don_Warren_123

 

Horse ID

7/28/12 — This week has been another good one so far, and tomorrow's Bing Crosby should be an exciting race. Today I spent time with horse I.D., traversing the backside in the morning and the receiving barn in the afternoon.  California, unlike many states, requires a photo as well as the official Jockey Club description when identifying horses.  This morning I went with the assistant horse identifier to take photos of horses that will be entering their first race soon so the photos could be put with the papers.  At left is a photo of a big unraced two year old filly in Baffert's barn named Vixen. I'm going to keep my eye out for her on the overnight! 

We also verified the markings of a couple of horses that the tattooer didn't feel comfortable tattooing recently because the markings didn't match up with the description on the papers.  The afternoon was spent with the horse identifier, checking the tattoos and markings of horses in the receiving barn prior to their races.  I will also get to spend a few more days with horse I.D. next week while the assistant is out on vacation!  It was a lot of fun seeing how the identification process works as well as meeting some trainers.

Friday was the Miss Del Mar "Cougar" contest- judged by a couple of former Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants- prior to the Cougar II Handicap, which Richard's Kid won convincingly (right, pre-race).  Today Rail Trip returned to the winner's circle for the first time in two years in the San Diego Handicap, and jockey Mario Gutierrez was on hand to ride a few races before heading east to ride Handsome Mike in the Haskell tomorrow. 

I'll be heading to Tucson tomorrow evening to see my husband and dog, but I'm looking forward to a great day of racing first!

 

Coil and the Pegrams

8/1/12 — I'm back from a brief but wonderful visit home to Tucson.. and I realized I forgot to blog about something awesome I got to do last week!  One of the other interns is the grandson of big-time thoroughbred owner Mike Pegram, and as you may know, Coil was victorious last week in his return to racing after a nine-month layoff.  Well myself and the other interns were all invited into the winner's circle for the photo!  With Bob Baffert, his wife Jill, and the whole Pegram clan!  Below is a pic our social media director snapped.  I am right behind Mike himself, and two other interns Alexis and Gator (Pegram) are to the right of me.

Gator says Coil is his favorite horse of the ones his family owns, though they are really high on the two-year-old filly Executiveprivilege, who is the most expensive horse the family has ever bought.  She's won her first two starts including a stakes closing weekend at Hollywood.  The Sorrento is next on her list.  I look forward to seeing her run at Del Mar!

Also, if you're interested- my latest post on the HorseRacingNation blog can be found here!

 

Intern Project and Know More

8/7/12 — Another week of racing at Del Mar has wrapped up!  I've been staying busy in the racing office, and Sunday I helped out with horse ID.  We figured out which first time starters still need identification cards made, pictures taken, or need to be tattooed.  I then filed the horses that ran Saturday back away, and after lunch we gathered the cards on Thursday and Friday's starters and grouped them by race so they are ready to go.  I'll be back with horse ID a couple more times this week helping out. 

The other interns and I have also started our intern project, which involves gathering demographic information of patrons as they enter the gate.  We'll then compile the information in a spreadsheet to be used for marketing purposes. We began Saturday and will wrap up this Sunday so as to capture each day's specific demographic info, as well as how it differs on concert days, giveaway days, etc.

Yesterday was the Best Pal, and it was thrilling!  O'Neill's barn is very near the frontside, and I have a favorite filly I like to visit there.  I also talk to his assistant Leandro Mora on a regular basis, and I've been hearing alot about Know More since before the meet even opened.  He really impressed yesterday in winning a grade II in his career debut- it was so exciting to be at the finish line and see the jubilation firsthand.  I couldn't help but cheer him home!  Above left is a pic of Leandro and I after the winner's circle celebration, and I really love the picture of the hands in the air as he crosses the finish line.  I can't say enough how exciting it was, especially since I already knew and liked the horse.  In case you missed it, you can find a replay here.

I'm looking forward to watching Executiveprivilege attempt to continue her unbeaten record in the G3 Sorrento on Wednesday.  But tomorrow continues my weekend, and you will find me at the beach!

 

Sorrento Winner's Circle

8/13/12 — There are only two weeks left for me at Del Mar!  My time here has flown.  For the past week I've been spending more time in horse I.D. and in the racing office once again.  The other interns and I have wrapped up the data collection part of our project and now we will start analyzing it.  We have also been busy keeping Del Mar's two Youtube channels up to date with race replays, sing with Bing, and hippity hop derbies.  The hippity hop derby is a daily race on the Poly among kids from Camp Del Mar- on bouncey balls!  It's pretty entertaining, and you can check out a replay of one here.

You may recall my post about the Coil winner's circle photo.. well last Wednesday the Pegram-owned Executiveprivilege won the grade III Sorrento and I was invited for that photo also!  I didn't have someone taking a picture from the track this time, but you can bet I'll be buying an official shot.  She did it well within herself and looks to be pretty special.

Also, on Sunday, the I'll Have Another connections scored with another promising 2 year old in He's Had Enough.  According to O'Neill's assistant Leandro, the colt was named after a Bob Baffert post-Preakness quote.  When asked if Bodemeister would continue on to the Belmont, Baffert quipped "I've had enough!"  And as they say, the rest is history.  He's Had Enough is a striking grey with a colored tail and seems like he will relish more distance.  Though it was just a maiden specialweight, it was his first start, and he exploded through the lane to win under a hold from Garrett Gomez.  Here are Reddam's two I'll Have Another successors, He's Had Enough and Know More, horsing around when I paid them a visit in the O'Neill barn.

 

Safety and Welfare

8/15/12 — Today was another fun day!  This morning I made the rounds with the safety steward, which I really enjoyed given my interests.  I learned about all of his tasks including taking track condition measurements and how they're done as well as his duties addressing any horsemen safety concerns anywhere at the track.  We also stopped to talk with a couple of trainers and watched horses schooling in the gate (left).  We then stopped and talked to the CHRB investigators for a while, and I am going to sit in on a hearing next week concerning a horse that was claimed but was injured in the race.  It was neat to get the inside scoop on that case as well as some inside info on past cases!

I also forgot to mention this earlier, but last Saturday morning I went with Dr. Dana Stead, one of the track veterinarians, while he did some pre-race exams.  It was great to learn exactly how they're done and what he looks for, and we had some good  conversations about current horse health/welfare issues facing the industry.  He does up to 60 exams per race morning!  Plus he has to examine and watch horses work that have been on the vet's list.  It was also interesting to hear stories about trainers that dispute his scratch recommendations.  Then on Monday I saw that a local news station did a little  piece on him and the pre-race exams!  You can watch it here.

Tomorrow should be great- the other interns and I are taking turns on the poles with the racing officials, and then sometime soon I'll be spending an afternoon up with the stewards during racing.

I'll leave you with a pic from my "weekend" with my husband- he came to San Diego and we did all kinds of touristy things!

 

Del Mar Homestretch

8/21/12 — Almost time for a my last week to begin!  I was at U of A yesterday for a couple classes before returning to San Diego for my last week.  This past weekend was quite exciting at the track, as not only was there some great stakes action but Richard's Kid was sold and transferred to Doug O'Neill's barn from Bob Baffert's.  Complicating matters is the fact that O'Neill's suspension for a TCO2 overage began Sunday, so his assistant Leandro has been dealing with everything.  It does make the Pacific Classic a bit more interesting!

Friday I got to shadow the patrol judges as they did their job, perched high atop a pole.  We then went back to the video room and watched the race with the patrol judges giving input to the stewards as needed.  The change in perspective, both literally and figuratively, was great!

On Saturday I went up with the stewards for a few races and was fortunate enough to witness an inquiry that changed the order of finish.  In the third race of the day, the third place finisher, Troy Story, caused three horses to take up in the stretch, and was moved to 8th place.  It was interesting to see the replays and how the stewards reached their decision.  It was also neat to see how much they worked with other racing officials, including the placing judges and the track vet.

After a few races in the stewards' stand, I went with the track vet Dana, who has been mentioned in an earlier post, as he watched the horses in the paddock and followed the horses to the gate and around the track during the race.  Once again it was great to see how everyone works together and the kinds of things that he looks for.  He truly has to be ready to leap from the van instantly should something go wrong, especially as the horses are loading into the gate.  And chasing the horses around the track really shows you how fast they're going!

Tomorrow morning I'll sit in on a hearing regarding Elivette, the claimed horse who suffered a fatal injury, and tomorrow evening is the Pacific Classic post position draw party!

 

Back to Campus

8/28/12 — My internship at Del Mar is wrapped up and I'm officially back in Tucson. It was a bittersweet end to the internship but I am happy to be back in my comfy apartment with my husband and dog.The last week of the internship was a whirlwind!  The interns finished up the demographics project, I spent time in the backside racing office taking entries, and I got to spend an entire morning watching the vet do his pre-race exams!  Pacific Classic day lived up to the hype, with east coast shipper Dullahan stealing the show away from both the Baffert and O'Neill barns.  I spent the day running all over the frontside and giving a paddock tour to some folks with the Breeders' Cup, but I did get to watch the stakes races!

I also got my first "Top Story" with my Horse Racing Nation blog!  My Pacific Classic post that I did Sunday night was (and still is) featured on the front page of the website.  It's the third photo/article at the top of the homepage, or you can read it here: http://www.horseracingnation.com/blogs/Del_Mar/Dullahan_Spoils_Pacific_C...
I'll still do at least one more blog for HRN covering the last week of racing at Del Mar.

I've been feeling disconnected from school as classes started last week and I was trying to prepare long-distance.  Now that I'm back in Tucson I'm ready to get back into the swing of things!  I have a somewhat light class schedule this semester but I will be spending a lot of time working on my graduate project and I'll also be working as a graduate assistant in the RTIP office. I'm looking forward to a great second-to-last semester!

 

RTIP Pizza Party

9/6/12 — Another week of classes is almost in the books after a long Labor Day weekend.  My husband and I spent it at Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park.  We had a great time exploring the beautiful state of Arizona! (Plus some Utah :)

Back on campus, Tuesday night was the "Welcome Back" pizza party for RTIP students in the RTIP office.  It was a fun time, catching up with friends I hadn't seen all summer and getting to know some of the new faces I've been seeing around.Aside from the regular classes and schoolwork, not too much else is going on this week, but next week the students will have their pictures taken for the yearbook that's given to industry leaders and potential employers at the symposium in December, and RTIP will have our first guest speaker of the semester.  Andrew Offerman, an RTIP alum and the New Media and Live Racing Coordinator for Canterbury Park, will be here to talk to the Racing Business, Strategies, and Global Perspectives class (ANS 442).  I'll leave you with a picture of students enjoying their pizza at the party!

 

Guest Speaker Kickoff

9/17/12 — The semester continues to pass quickly and we are now getting into midterms!  I am also beginning to work on a couple of big projects for some classes, plus Wildcat football is 3-0 and nationally ranked!  Last week the RTIP had our first guest speaker for the semester, in ANS 442: Racing Business, Strategies and Global Perspectives. 

Andrew Offerman, the Live Racing and Social Media Coordinator at Canterbury Park and also an RTIP alum, gave us an overview of the track and some advice for our strategic analysis project.  Canterbury Park was the focus of the project last year, and Offerman was one of the "judges," so his help was greatly appreciated.  It was also very interesting to learn about Canterbury's current and past business strategies, especially their new "cooperative marketing agreement" with the local tribal casino.  The fact that a casino is working together with a track, and not against, is encouraging.  Hopefully other tracks in similar situations will be able to consider such options in the future. 

Tomorrow morning RTIP has another guest speaker, bloodstock agent Eric Anderson, in ANS 444: Development and Managing of Racing Animals.  It should be a great opportunity for RTIP students to gain some firsthand knowledge of what bloodstock agents do!

 

Bluegrass Bound

10/9/2012 — So sorry it's been so long since I last posted! The semester has flown by and we're in the thick of midterms. Last week I had a midterm over racino management in ANS 542, and today I had a final in a class that is only a first 8 week class. That's right, the semester is half over! Here in the RTIP office we've been busy preparing for the symposium coming up in December, and I've been writing lots of articles for the yearly update which RTIP publishes and distributes at the conference. I am really looking forward to the symposium and the opportunity to network with and learn from industry professionals and potential employers, especially since I'm graduating in May.

I'm also really looking forward to a trip to Lexington! Next Monday I will be traveling to Lexington to attend the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, which is put on by The Jockey Club and hosted by Keeneland. This year the conference will focus on "Prevention vs. Reaction," and I'll spend two days learning about progress made on current safety initiatives and problems that need to be addressed. Speakers scheduled include Matt Iuliano, executive director of The Jockey Club, Dr. Mary Scollay, equine medical director for the state of Kentucky, and Mike Ziegler, executive director of the NTRA's Safety and Integrity Alliance and Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance. It should be a wonderful experience! Fortunately the RTIP has a travel stipend program that helps students pay for trips such as this.

And I have even more travels planned... Next month I will be writing for Horse Racing Nation at the Breeders' Cup! After the Del Mar meet (and thus my coverage of it) ended, all the HRN bloggers were contacted about helping to cover a race leading up to and live at the Breeders' Cup. I was assigned the Sprint, and I've done a few blog posts on the race's history, prep races, and contenders, and come November I will go to LA to cover the race itself and help out with other HRN projects. You can read my most recent BC Sprint post here (it is/was also a cover story on the website!). I could not be more excited to spend a Breeders' Cup in the press room at Santa Anita!

Though I've been busy with schoolwork, both of these great opportunities have kept me focused this semester! I have also been making progress with data collection for my graduate project, which will focus on what tracks lose when a horse suffers a catastrophic injury. I'll be back with an update once I return from Lexington!

 

Welfare and Safety Summit

10/24/12 — I'm back in the desert after a wonderful trip to Lexington!  I had a great time at the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit and I learned so much from so many industry leaders.  The amount of information presented was mind-boggling!  In a good way, of course!

After a 5 am flight out of Phoenix, I began my time in Lexington at a Summit reception at a local restaurant on Monday evening.  There I got to mingle with many of the presenters and attendees, and I really enjoyed getting to talk to them in a casual environment.  The next morning the conference started bright and early at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, with presentations on race surface testing and medication rule reform.  Throughout the day I got to listen to presentations on how seemingly legal riding crops can be modified to be illegal, pre-race exams, corticosteroids in horses in training, and more.  Left is a photo of the pre-race exam demonstration in the sales pavilion walking ring.  I even got to eat lunch with an equine physical therapist who has worked on the likes of Awesome Gem, Shackleford, and Trailblazer, the Japanese horse who will run in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

Wednesday was just as interesting.  I got to Keeneland early so I could watch the horses working out on the track.  That day was also a race day, so it was amazing to see how many people were already beginning to fill the parking lot at that hour!  I had never been to Keeneland during racing before, and the track and grounds really have a magic about them that I can't explain.  One presenter described Keeneland as "a cathedral of Thoroughbred racing" in his closing remarks, and I could not agree more with that statement.  The conference that morning began with a panel of racing regulators taking the stage in the first thing, followed by a very interesting presentation covering all aspects of Thoroughbred aftercare.  The funding for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance announced a couple of weeks ago is very exciting, and the TAA hopes to expand, one day getting money from the people involved in each part of a horse's life.  They'll start accrediting aftercare organizations next month.

After the conference ended we were treated to a buffet lunch in the Lafayette Room on Keeneland's fourth floor overlooking the races.  It was awesome!  This time I chatted with the former Senior Vice President- Equine Operations for the Breeders' Cup, and it was fascinating to hear firsthand how the event has transformed over the years since its inception, which she helped make happen.  I then just enjoyed the afternoon of racing, meandering from paddock to finish line and back up to the fourth floor viewing balcony.  Keeneland is truly special.  I loved every minute of my time in Lexington, whether it was learning at the conference or enjoying the horses in the morning and afternoon.

If you want any other information on what was discussed at the summit, you can find it here:
http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/newsimages/2012_agenda_WSS.pdf
http://www.grayson-jockeyclub.org/WelfareSafety/default.asp?section=44

Now on to my next fantastic experience, writing for HRN at the Breeders' Cup!  Only 10 days until the big event!  Don't worry, I'm still finding time for my classes and homework.  They just aren't quite as exciting to write about!

 

Breeders' Cup 2012

11/7/12 — The Breeders’ Cup was a whirlwind weekend!  After completing the 8 hour drive on Thursday, I arrived early enough to catch the last few races at Santa Anita.  I had never been to the track, and it was beautiful!  I walked around the huge grandstand and took it all in before I went to the auxiliary press area to meet my Horse Racing Nation “boss,” who until then I had only ever corresponded with via email.  I also went up to the press box to say hi to a fellow RTIPer who was working up there in publicity for Santa Anita for the week.  That night we went to the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup party in downtown LA, which was really neat also!  The LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke a couple of times, and Cirque du Soleil performed.

Friday was the big day!  I got to the track early to watch some horses jog, but they closed the track for training early both Friday and Saturday so I didn’t get to see too many...  I had plenty of time to scope out the track and grounds though!  The day went by far too fast, capped off by Royal Delta repeating in the Ladies’ Classic, this time in front-running fashion.  Groupie Doll was impressive as well, and Beholder managed to turn the tables on a favorite of mine, Executiveprivilege.

Saturday was even more exciting with the promise of the $5 million Classic at the end of the day.  The breakfast and lunch for the press was great, and I also went down to the winners’ circle to watch the Juvenile with a couple of other HRN writers.  I’ve loved He’s Had Enough since this summer, but I was glad Rosie won her first BC race!  It was awesome being that close to the action!  The race I've been covering, the Sprint, was also an exciting one.  Trinniberg trumped his elders, with fellow sophomore The Lumber Guy second.  None of the favorites seemed to fire, but Trinniberg is a gorgeous horse and I'm glad he won.  After a thrilling Mile with Wise Dan and Animal Kingdom running 1-2 in track record time, it was another thrilling stretch duel in the Classic.  That evening I went to dinner in Monrovia with the HRN gang, and we sat at the table that Doug O’Neill had just left.  There was also a large group of Fort Larned connections celebrating in the same restaurant!

Sunday morning I went to the Santa Monica Pier to take a walk on the beach before swinging by the Hollywood sign on my way out of town.  I got back to Tucson rather late Sunday night, but it was worth it.  Overall the weekend was exhausting but very exciting and memorable!

 

Symposium is Upon Us!

12/3/12 — The symposium is almost here!  We have been super busy around the office preparing for the big event.  Finalizing speakers, finishing up the program and RTIP “yearbook,” and just making sure everything is ready to go for Monday.  Today is the student meeting, which all RTIP students must be at if they wish to attend the symposium at all over the four days.

The Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming, as it’s known, is a great opportunity for us students and one of my favorite things about the program.  Each year hundreds of leaders in the racing industry from around the world converge in Tucson for a few days in December.  As students we have the opportunity to not only learn from them via panel sessions, but get to know them in many networking events, including evening receptions and the Mentor Lunch, which I’ve been organizing all semester.  With the Mentor Lunch, each student gets to invite an industry professional of their choice to have a nice meal in an informal environment.  Last year my mentor was Craig Dado, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Del Mar, and our lunch led to my internship there over the summer.  

There are also lots of interesting panel sessions scheduled.  One I'm especially interested to see, "Does Your Social Media Measure Up?",  will feature the new NYRA Chief Marketing Officer Rodnell Workman, whose previous work experience includes the NFL and Madison Square Garden.  It will be neat to see an outsider's perspective on racing as well as hear what NYRA will do moving forward.

I’m really looking forward to the opportunities Symposium holds for me this year.  I’ll be sure to make another blog entry after the semester ends to let you know how it goes!

 

End of the Semester

12/11/12 — The semester is drawing to a close here in Tucson. I have just one paper yet to complete before I can relax and enjoy my break. Last night was the RTIP end of semester party, which is when we get together at a faculty member’s house to enjoy a meal and celebrate the graduating seniors. It was a great time, and we all had fun wishing the seniors the best!

Last week, of course, was symposium, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Though I was busy all week attending panels and writing about them, for both the RTIP press releases and Thoroughbred Daily News, I did find time to network. I had a great lunch with my mentor Julie Balog of Keeneland, and I got to meet one of the partners in HorseRacingNation, whom I blog for, who is a fellow University of Illinois alum, as well as many other industry professionals. I also learned a lot from the panel sessions. Some of my favorites were the track redevelopment and keeping racing profitable panels, which both discussed racing’s place in the market and how to make it relevant in today’s competitive environment.

I also enjoyed the social media panel, and I wish I could have attended the marketing panel! I would have loved to hear what Christa Marrillia (Keeneland), John Hartig (DRF), Kelly Spencer (Grand River Racing), and Jason Wilson (The Jockey Club) had to say about attracting new and casual customers, but I was busy presenting my professional development project poster (left) along with other students that presented their senior projects. The poster presentation was a great opportunity to show off our work and discuss our projects with many industry professionals that were very interested in what we learned.

The Turf Publicists of America Big Sport of Turfdom Award went to Dale Romans, who was there with his partner Tammy to accept the award. He was recognized for his openness and cooperation with the media throughout all his successes this year. As trainer of Shackleford, Tapitsfly, Little Mike, and Dullahan, Romans has had a huge year and is a frontrunner for the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer. After lunch he was kind enough to spend a lot of time talking with RTIP students and answering their questions. At right is a picture of Mr. Romans and many of the students.

It was a great symposium and a great semester, but I’ll be glad to take a break for the next three weeks! I am really looking forward to visiting friends and family back home in the Midwest, and hopefully there’ll be some snow on the ground!

 

Out of the Gate

1/10/13 — Winter break flew by, and the spring semester has begun!  It was great to have a respite from classes, and I enjoyed a white Christmas at home in the Midwest with friends and family. 

Not too much to report on here yet.  Classes started yesterday, and I am looking forward to completing my final semester at U of A and earning my Master's Degree!  In the RTIP office we are still wrapping up the last loose ends from Symposium.  I've just updated our Symposium photo galleries on the website, and I will be proofing panel session transcripts over the next several days.  After that I'll be concentrating more on marketing efforts. I'll leave you with a photo from the RTIP Instagram feed.  You can follow us at @ua_rtip!  

 

Guest Speaker

1/29/13 — The semester is now in full swing, complete with exams and papers. My grad project and job search are in full swing as well. My grad project is progressing well; I have my committee in place and I am officially "registered" to graduate in May! I'm optimistic about my job search, even in this economy, thanks to the great connections I've made through my experiences in the RTIP.

We also had our first guest speaker of the semester last Wednesday. Vince Mares, Executive Director of the New Mexico Racing Commission, came to speak in the Joe Hirsch Speaker Series as well as the Advance Animal Racing Laws and Enforcement class about his experiences managing the agency after coming from a law enforcement background. He also shared true stories of situations he's dealt with since being a part of the commission, and he discussed some of the challenges that New Mexico racing faces and what they're doing to confront them. As a student, it's great to hear how industry problems are actually being addressed in a real-world situation. You can read the press release about his visit here.

Only 102 days until I graduate! Not that I'm counting or anything.  I just can't wait to begin my career in the racing industry!

 

Spring on the Horizon

2/26/2013 — We're now almost halfway done with the semester, and in the thick of midterms.  The weather has been unusually cold here, and last week it actually snowed in Tucson.  But, spring break is a week from Friday!  We've also been having more guest speakers-- last week we had one, and this week we will have two more.

Last week Raj Mutti, the Regional General Manager of British Columbia Racing for Great Canadian Gaming, spoke in three different classes.  Raj is a 2004 alum of the RTIP, and it was great to get his perspective.  In the Marketing and Media Relations class, he discusssed how he and his team have rebranded Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, and the problems and successes they encountered.  The track is now a hip place for younger adults to go for fun on the weekend, but the marketing and branding process is neverending.  In the Race Track Organization, Structure, and Financial Management class Raj discussed today's racing industry and the skills needed to be successful in race track management.  Raj also spoke in the Joe Hirsch Speaker Forum, where he discussed many of his experiences within the racing industry and how his career has progressed.  Though he has worked hard and taken advantage of opportunities he's been offered, he credits the RTIP for laying the foundation for his success.  It was neat to hear an alum's perspective on the Race Track Industry Program.  I also did a short interview with Raj to get some insight for my Professional Development Project, which is coming along well.

This week we will have two guest speakers- Eddie Arroyo on Wednesday and Dr. Rick Arthur on Wednesday and Thursday.  Arroyo is a former jockey and current steward for the state of Illinois, and he will speak in Organization and Administration of the Racing Department as well as the Joe Hirsch Speaker Forum.  Dr. Arthur is going to talk in Advanced Animal Racing Laws and Enforcement on Wednesday, and he will speak in Form & Function of the Equine Athlete on Thursday.  It should be a great week!

 

Past the Eighth Pole

4/3/2013 — The finish line is in sight- less than 5.5 weeks until graduation! I've been staying busy with my Professional Development Project and major end-of-the-semester assignments for class. I'm in the end stages of my project focusing on public perception of racehorse welfare, and I'll present it in a seminar at the end of the month, followed shortly by my oral exam. I'm hopeful it will have a positive impact on the racing industry!

We've been having a lot of guest speakers lately, so I've also been busy writing press releases.  Matt Hegarty, an RTIP alum and reporter for the Daily Racing Form, came to speak about his career path and current industry issues, and Dr. Scott Stanley of UC Davis discussed medications in racehorses. Mark Thurman, President and CEO of CHRIMS came to speak about simulcasting report analysis, and Mike Tanner (pictured), Executive VP and CEO of the USTA spoke about executive decision making and situations he's faced while on the job. It was great to hear real-world insights and learn how the things we study in class apply.

 

Semester's End

5/1/13 — The end of the semester is almost here. Today is the last day of classes. Yesterday we had our final guest speaker of the semester, and today I presented my grad project in the RTIP Joe Hirsch Speaker Series (glad that's over!).

Marsha Kelly spoke yesterday (left) in the Race Track Marketing and Media Relations class. Marsha is a media relations expert and president of her company, Kelly Media Consulting. Marsha spoke about the animal rights movement and the challenges that racing faces as a result. She also discussed how the industry should handle such challenges.

Today I presented the results of my Professional Development Project in the Hirsch Seminar (below right), and my project was coincidentally related to what Marsha spoke about. Mine was titled "Public Perception and Equine Welfare in the North American Thoroughbred Racing Industry," and I examined animal welfare issues in other industries and how they're handled, as well as crisis events in industries unrelated to animals. I also described two small studies I did, including interviews with track operators and handle analysis, both related to catastrophic injuries. Finally, I made recommendations to the industry regarding how equine welfare issues are handled and how to determine public perception of the industry. I learned a lot by completing my project, and I really feel it is valuable to the industry.

The only schoolwork I have remaining is a final project for my financial management class and my grad project oral exam. My parents are coming into town next week to see me graduate on Saturday May 11! The RTIP has been great, but I'm excited to begin the next phase of my life.

 

That's a Wrap!

5/9/2013 — I'm done with grad school! I passed my oral exam of my graduate project this week, and I turned in my last two final projects. My parents are in town and I can't wait to walk in the graduation ceremony this weekend and celebrate!

I've had a great two years in the program and I look forward to what the future holds.