Tucson, AZ — On Wednesday April 4th, students in the Race Track Industry Program were treated to two lectures by retired steward and FBI agent Leo Connolly. Mr. Connolly has been an asset to RTIP since early in the program’s history, serving as an instructor and helping out with the Symposium on Racing during the very early years. Connolly spoke to students in the Joe Hirsch Speaker Series, as well as the Advanced Racing Law class.
In the Joe Hirsch Speaker Series, Mr. Connolly gave students a brief history of his career. He talked about getting his first job as a security guard at Finger Lakes, and how a steward took an interest in him and showed him the ways of the racetrack. Connolly related many of his personal experiences to life lessons for the students. He said it is incumbent on racing officials to help and educate each other, including that one of the best things to come out of the Race Track Industry Program was the network of racing officials. Connolly talked about the obligation to the public that racing officials have, and that the public is entitled to consistency from officials.
Later in the afternoon, Connolly met with the Advanced Racing Law class to discuss the differences and similarities in regulating the races from his era and today. Connolly asserted that when he was a steward, the steward’s word was the law of the track. He used the example of a steward who took a jockey off his day’s mounts because the jockey’s hair was touching the collar of his shirt. Eventually, the idea of the steward’s ultimate power waned, resulting in the beginning of the appeals process we know today. Mr. Connolly left the class with some words of wisdom, stating that common sense and finesse can solve a lot of problems.