THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA RACE TRACK INDUSTRY PROGRAM

The University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) is a component of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Its program director, Douglas Reed, provided answers to a number of questions about the RTIP.

Program director Reed has been a vice president and an official at some of the premier racetracks across America, among others, Arlington Park, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, and The Meadowlands. He has spoken to prominent racing organizations in the United States and internationally and he is often consulted by the media for insights on issues and events in the racing industry.

HRB: In what year was the Race Track Industry Program at the University of Arizona started?

DR: Founded in 1973 and first started classes in 1974.

HRB: What is its mission?

DR: The mission of the RTIP is to offer students a broad-based, university education with emphasis on the pari-mutuel racing industry. A second component of the mission is to provide support for the pari-mutuel racing industry through a variety of outreach programs.

In support of the education and outreach missions, we are committed to providing:

  • A business focus that emphasizes professionalism and integrity;
  • Experience-based learning through industry internships and interaction with guest lecturers from the industry;
  • Personal mentoring to aid in education and career decisions;
  • A source of highly qualified talent for the industry; and
  • Professional development opportunities and information to the racing industry.

HRB: Is the RTIP focused exclusively on horse racing and dog racing, or do you also consider the bloodstock and auction sectors of the racing industry? (What prompted this question is that two of the best-known American Thoroughbred trainers, Hall-of-Fame inductee Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, graduated from the RTIP program, as did Joe Osborne, the managing director of Kildangan Stud in Ireland.)

DR: Through our animal path we include those sectors in the broad-based knowledge of the industry students receive. For example, aspects of those sectors are covered in Animal Science 444, “Management of the Racing Animal.” Also students may take Animal Science 273, “Training/Management of the Yearling” in which they prep and take to the sale horses bred by the University of Arizona.

HRB: With so many racinos in business now, have you expanded the scope of your instruction to include operating a gaming facility in conjunction with a racetrack?

DR: Yes. As part of the course Animal Science 442, “Race Track Business and Financial Management” about a month is spent on the “101” of slots operations and the issues surrounding the racino concept.

HRB: To what extent do the faculty members in the RTIP have hands-on experience in what they are teaching?

DR: We believe that this aspect is a strength of the RTIP. Each faculty member has years of experience in the racing industry. I have been a racing official, racing secretary and VP for a company that ran two tracks, Steve Barham was an executive director for a racing commission for 17-plus years, Dr. Ron Allen has bred horses in Arizona and New Mexico for many years, and Wendy Davis has owned, trained, and bred horses for most of her life.

HRB: Do you regularly bring in speakers for your students to learn from and interact with?

DR: Students regularly have access to about 10 guest speakers each semester from all “walks of life” in the industry. Each aspect of the industry is regularly represented through the guest speaker program with industry experts brought right into the classroom. In addition, students have access and the ability to promote themselves each year at the annual Symposium on Racing & Gaming hosted by the RTIP (December 7-10, 2009). Students are involved in the administration of the Symposium, attend the Symposium that week in lieu of RTIP classes, and may invite a mentor each year to lunch during the conference at the annual Mentor Lunch.

HRB: Describe in more detail the Symposium.

DR: Each year in early December (since 1974) the leaders of the industry gather, representing track management, regulators, representatives of associations, horsemen’s groups and vendors. The Symposium attracts attendees representing Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, Greyhound, and racino interests from across the United States and internationally. Topics presented encompass cutting-edge issues and trends of importance to the pari-mutuel industry, such as simulcasting, account wagering, marketing, track surfaces, casino gaming, human and health issues, track operations, new technologies and regulation

HRB: Is the average age of your undergraduate students about the same as for typical college and university undergraduates?

DR: The average age is skewed slightly older because, in addition to traditional four-year undergraduates, the program attracts second-career individuals, transfer students from other universities and now offers a graduate program as well.

HRB: How many courses and course hours do RTIP undergraduate students take that are customized for them? Are these courses open to non-RTIP majors?

DR: Approximately 30 credit hours of core classes customized for RTIP students are required. In addition, everyone will take up to 6 units of internship or practicum. The business-path students take additional business courses and the animal-path students take equine science courses with approximately 15 of those units specific to an equine science curriculum.

Non-majors do take some of the RTIP courses but upper-division courses do have prerequisites.

HRB: What are some examples of the internships or co-op experiences in which your students have engaged?

DR: Since each internship is designed specifically with each individual in mind through example it is impossible to illustrate completely the variety. But for example: students have spent the summer in various aspects of management at Del Mar, the New York Racing Association, and numerous racetracks. Also, some students prefer to concentrate their efforts in one department and may spend most of their internship in a specific function like marketing or racing. On the animal side, students have spent time working with trainers like Todd Pletcher and Greg Fox. Also, students have interned at major farms. Other interns have been placed at organizations such as the Jockey Club, California Horse Racing Board, University of California at Davis, the U. S. Trotting Association, and so forth. The RTIP is fortunate to have more demand for interns then interns available, which helps when tailoring a specific internship for a student’s needs.

HRB: What kinds of jobs have RTIP students obtained upon graduation?

DR: Again due to the broad-based knowledge they receive and the variety of jobs obtained upon graduation, it is difficult to demonstrate the variety through example. Jobs recently obtained include: track announcer, marketing & communications director, racing assistant (Darley America), racing administrator, simulcast coordinator, client relations (Walmac Farms), staff writer/reporter, and executive assistant (Isle at Pompano Park), player development manager, trainer, executive director (Thoroughbred Breeders of New Jersey) etc. (For a complete listing, click here.)

HRB: What kinds of graduate programs have some former RTIP students pursued?

DR: A number of RTIP students have gone on to Law School. Perhaps the most notable example of someone working in the industry is Paul Estok, General Counsel for Harness Tracks of America. Other students have gone on for their MBA and one former student has a doctorate in marketing and teaches. We have also had a number of students come to the program as second-career students and they already had an MBA, JD etc. Most notable of those might be Dr. Scott Waterman, who had his veterinarian degree and a small-animal practice. He is now Executive Director of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Racing Medication & Testing Consortium.

HRB: When did the RTIP begin the master’s degree program and typically how long does it take to complete?

DR: The masters program began in August of 2006. It is typically a four-semester program and the recommended time for a student to start is the fall semester.

HRB: Are there scholarships or in-state tuition opportunities for students who are not residents of the Arizona?

DR: Yes. New students can apply for some assistance not only with the University of Arizona but for specific RTIP scholarships via the RTIP website. Also, all RTIP students can apply, on an annual basis, for department and RTIP-specific scholarships.

HRB: Any information or insights about the RTIP that you want to add that are not covered in the previous questions?

DR: Besides the unique and applied nature of the program and the education and opportunity students are given at the RTIP, there is an additional benefit for students. An asset the program now provides is the reputation and product it has produced. After 35 years, the graduates of the program have proved to be a tremendous resource for current students.

The graduate program is only offered for students in the business path and they have worked on projects that include and are titled: The Condition Book & Its Effect on Handle, Performance of Sire Lines on Different Racing Surfaces, and The Current Evolution of Thoroughbred Racing in Northern California. While students, graduates have interned with Penn National Gaming, California Authority of Racing Fairs, and The Jockey Club. The graduate program is relatively new, with the second class graduating in May of 2010. The first three graduates work as: Racing Administrator, Charles Town Races and Slots; Client Relations Manager, Walmac Farms (and currently managing the shuttle stallions in Australia); and Director of Communications and Media Relations, New York Racing Association.

HRB: Thank you.

Contact Information:

The University of Arizona
Race Track Industry Program
845 North Park Avenue Ste. 30
Tucson, AZ 85721

Phone: 520-621-5660

dreed@ag.arizona.edu

Postscript by Bill Shanklin:  I spent two days in 2008 visiting with the faculty and staff of the RTIP. I came away with the impression of a dedicated group of people who do not view their duties as “just a job.”  Students are challenged with a contemporary curriculum appropriate to the fluid world of racing today, delivered by knowledgeable and enthusiastic instructors and reinforced by guest speakers from the industry.  However, like all strong academic programs, the RTIP curriculum does not just reflect what is going on in racing at the moment, but rather tries to be leading edge with research into such tools as social networking and viral marketing. The RTIP physical facilites are comfortable and they are located on the attractive University of Arizona campus, with easy access to cultural and social opportunities.

Copyright © 2009 Horse Racing Business

Comments

  1. I have been into appaloosa racing for a few years and am very interested in genetics and breeding for better, more sound racehorses that will come off the track to barrel race or compete in other disciplines. Does UofA have any online classes for this type of thing? I am 47yrs old and have never gotten over my obsession with these four legged creatures.

  2. sharon brown says:

    Does UofA have any online classes for Horse Racing .

  3. sharon brown says:

    does UofA offer the Race Track Industry Program of line?

  4. sharon brown says:

    Hi Lori,

    I am very interested in the Race Track Industry Program is there any on-line courses being offered at this time?
    Sincerely,
    Sharon Brown

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