My RTIP Story: Program Set Owens Up For Success In Godolphin Flying Start

March 10, 2022


Taylor Owens did not pass her childhood years with any certain expectation that she would work with Thoroughbreds. Born in New York and raised largely in Iowa, Owens' family was only peripherally connected to the Thoroughbred racing industry through her father's uncle, who owned and ran a handful of horses at Prairie Meadows.

“Some of my earliest memories as a child are actually of going to Prairie Meadows,” said Owens. “We would go and visit and watch my dad's uncle's horses run, so that is clearly where I caught the bug. From the outside I was a fan and I followed the big names like Zenyatta and Rags to Riches; the big horses.”

In was during those sporadic trips to the track that the seed was planted for Owens. Now, more than a decade later and well-entrenched into her first year as a student in the highly-selective Godolphin Flying Start Thoroughbred Industry Management and Leadership Program, those days of watching from the stands seem very far away.

Owens' childhood admiration for the sport of racing was initially a bit of a conundrum for the budding fan. Unlike many children who grow up with parents or friends working in the industry in states like Kentucky, New York, or California, getting a foot in the door seemed like a daunting prospect. It wasn't until her father came home one day with the news that he'd found a program at the University of Arizona that Owens finally saw her in.

“My dad found out about the Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) when I was in seventh grade and I just knew then that that was where I was going to go,” said Owen. “But it was a long time between then and when I received my acceptance letter.  It was very exciting for me and for my family.

“Thinking back, I actually didn't get involved in the industry at all until 2018 when I started RTIP. The program was the only path I could see into the industry for me. I didn't know how else to get involved.”

With designs to become a Thoroughbred trainer — a goal she still maintains — Owens entered RTIP and gravitated toward the more scientific, equine-centric side of the program.

“RTIP has a business side and an equine side, but they're both equine-focused,” said Owens. “I went in on the equine side so I had more hands-on courses with horses which was what I wanted. All of my courses were geared toward teaching me to manage a track, or a farm, or becoming a trainer. It's very focused in that regard which really makes it unique.

“For me, there were two things that happened in the program. First, it was a lot of exposure and networking. They host the racing symposium in Tucson every year and the students are part of that and help run it. You see so many facets of the business and meet so many industry professionals. One year we went up to Kentucky and went to Hagyard, visited trainers, and just got to see the nuts and bolts of it all. Then, through my courses, I was able to sit in on conversations with really powerful people in the industry like Drew Fleming or Lonny Powell — that is huge. I feel like you really grow as a professional individual being put in these situations and interactions with people high up in the industry. It makes you bring yourself to a higher standard and that has definitely helped me going forward.”