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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA aids in return of local racetrack


Courtesy of Jesus Barerra / Rillito Park Race Track

Jockies rush out of the gates to begin the last race of the day at the Rillito River Race Track. The racetrack was almost closed an turned into a strip mall in the past.

Rillito Park Racetrack, Tucson’s local horse racing track, will host the historic El Moro de Cumpas race on March 21. The race’s estimated $50,000 purse is the largest amount to ever be offered at the track.

Just last year, the racetrack was planned to be torn down. However, the publicity and popularity of the Race Track Industry Program helped restore the track’s functionality. RTIP is the only one of its kind in the nation and created a partnership with the UA in which students can develop skills in business management of the racetrack, as well as breeding and racing animals.

Students study the mechanisms of racing on campus, and thanks to RTIP, they have the opportunity to experience a racetrack firsthand.

The Rillito Park Racetrack began its involvement with the UA when the racetrack’s general manager and UA RTIP alumnus Michael Weiss realized he wanted to make sure students received hands-on experience before starting their careers.

“I wanted to make the track a working lab for the students,” Weiss said. “I was told that the students didn’t have many opportunities to get hands-on experience to work in the industry. As an alum, I wanted to make sure that current and future students are able to have an opportunity to gain that experience.”

As official employees of the Rillito Park Racetrack, Arizona students are given responsibilities in social media, bookkeeping, the photo finish line and admissions. Students can work in the racetrack’s departments that they are interested in.

“For someone who hasn’t worked in the racetrack industry, you can only know so much from the classroom,” said Sarah Crane, RTIP junior. “At Rillito, we really get to see what works and what doesn’t. The hands-on experience is priceless; you can’t get that at school.”

The collaboration with Rillito Park Racetrack helps RTIP students gain further knowledge in their field and has also had a positive effect on the racetrack itself.

“I enjoy working with the people there,” said Elise Jackson, RTIP sophomore. “It has given me an insight as to how much dedication it takes to resurrect a track like Rillito, as well as how much it takes to keep a track running. I think this is important, as a student like myself looking to work in this industry, to be a part of a project like this.”


Follow Lauren Renteria on Twitter.

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