This is part of a series profiling participants of the PariBet Racetrack Industry Student Experience (PRISE), a program that allows University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program students the chance to work in paid positions in key roles at Rillito Park.
While many of us fall in love with racing at an early age, some are not bitten by the racing bug until later in life. Autumn Charley, a senior in the Race Track Industry Program, is one of those cases. She had a casual interest in horse racing growing up, but she did not realize she wanted to work in the industry until she enrolled at the University of Arizona.
“My first interest in horse racing started when my dad and I would watch the Kentucky Derby on television. He would tell me ‘put a dollar on top of the TV and pick a horse,'” Charley said. “It wasn't until I came to the U of A when I became more and more interested in the racing industry. I switched from veterinary science to the RTIP through talking with Wendy [Davis] and exploring some classes like Introduction to the Animal Racing Industry.”
Originally from New Mexico, Charley had limited experience attending the races at SunRay Park. The opportunity to work at Rillito Park was the perfect chance to change that.
“Prior to coming to the U of A, I had never really been to a racetrack, let alone know how it operates,” Charley said. “I decided that working at Rillito would give me an opportunity to see how a racetrack really works.”
In Charley's third season at Rillito, she is the assistant program manager. In prior years, she worked in graphics and the racing office. As the assistant program manager, Charley helps make the printed programs for live racing and simulcast racing. Her different roles from year to year have resulted in an especially diversified experience.
“You get to know everyone at the track from those in operations to the horsemen. Every student gets to see everything and work in almost every department,” Charley said.
Another perk is Rillito's proximity to the University of Arizona.
“Rillito is right down the street. It is so close that you can be at work in the morning taking entries and then catch your afternoon classes later.”
After graduation, Charley would like to pursue a career in equine reproduction. However, she still appreciates the importance of the Rillito experience.
“Although I am interested in the more hands-on aspect of breeding, I also have an interest in being able to understand the business and management perspective of a racetrack or breeding operation,” Charley said. “I appreciate that PRISE allows us students to gain real industry experience at a local track.”
Learn more about the University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program.
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